Steve Harris, a former longtime Redmond police chief, was one of two people killed in a head-on collision Sunday night near Redmond.
Harris, 68, and his wife, Margaret, were driving west on state Highway 202 around 9 p.m. when their Ford Explorer was struck head-on by a Dodge Dakota pickup driven by a 16-year-old boy.
Harris died at the scene. His wife, 68, remains in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
The 16-year-old boy, who has not been identified, also died at the scene, according to the Washington State Patrol.
Trooper Chris Webb said that after colliding with the Explorer, the “16-year-old continued eastbound in the westbound lanes and struck a third vehicle. The pickup then rolled over on its side, blocking both lanes.”
A woman driving the second car struck by the pickup suffered minor injuries and declined medical attention, Webb said.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
“It could be distracted driving, lack of sleep, we may never know,” Webb said.
Harris retired after a 42-year career in law enforcement, 28 of those years as Redmond’s police chief, in 2009.
Redmond Police Chief Ron Gibson said their department is stunned by the loss.
“It’s a shock. You don’t see this coming. A number of the people who work here still associate with Chief Harris. We’re trying to reach out to those individuals and reach out to Chief Harris’ family,” Gibson said.
Gibson said he has sent a contingent of his command staff to Harborview Medical Center to be there for Harris’ severely hurt wife and the Harris family.
Even after retiring, Harris remained living just outside Redmond. Gibson said he ran into him at local businesses and at law enforcement conferences. As past president of the International Association of Police Chiefs, Harris was still deeply involved in law enforcement, Gibson said.
King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg remembered Harris as “an innovator.” While crime rates have never been high in Redmond, Harris focused his attention on reducing crime countywide, Satterberg said.
Harris’ auto-theft-reduction task force involved police from King, Snohomish and Pierce counties sharing information. In 2005 in King County, there were 17,694 auto thefts; in 2008 there were 8,349.