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Originally published Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Motorists witness stabbing, hijacking on bridge

A man was repeatedly stabbed then run over in front of a dozen panicked onlookers Friday morning on the Mercer Island Floating Bridge. Motorists who stopped to...

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

A man was repeatedly stabbed then run over in front of a dozen panicked onlookers Friday morning on the Mercer Island Floating Bridge.

Motorists who stopped to help at what appeared to be an accident scene instead watched as a driver stabbed his male passenger, hijacked a car and ran over his victim before fleeing east.

The driver was captured after a 20-mile chase by police ending near the Highway 18 exit. The incident began about 11 a.m. when the driver of a white Subaru station wagon and the front-seat passenger apparently got into an argument while traveling on eastbound Interstate 90 west of Mercer Island, said Trooper Jeff Merrill, State Patrol public-information officer.

According to police, the driver stabbed the passenger, and the Subaru went out of control, hitting the median barrier, careening back to the right side of the freeway and coming to rest against a guardrail, with tires and wheels torn off the passenger side.

The two men and a woman passenger got out on the roadway where the fight continued, with the male passenger stabbed several more times, Merrill said. Several motorists stopped to help.

According to police and witnesses, the Subaru driver — described as being about 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 270 pounds — then turned to the crowd, holding the knife, and said, "I'm taking a car."

The car he picked was a Dodge Stratus, which had been left with its engine running by a 16-year-old Issaquah girl.

The suspect jumped into the car, but before speeding off, he put the vehicle in reverse and drove over the victim who was lying on the road, said Merrill.

Leigh Fatzinger, driving to an appointment in Bellevue, was among about a dozen drivers stopped behind the crashed Subaru, who watched the drama unfold. Fatzinger said he watched the suspect get into the Dodge and purposely turn the car toward the victim lying in the roadway.

"The two left tires rolled over him, and that's when I started to panic," said Fatzinger. "He could have driven forward and avoided the man."

"I was absolutely frightened," he said.

The fleeing Dodge was pursued by patrol units on I-90 at speeds over 100 mph, Merrill said. Troopers tried to stop the car with spike strips across the freeway at Preston east of Issaquah, but the driver evaded the strips and continued east.

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Troopers stationed at the closure of Snoqualmie Pass because of avalanches joined the chase, and the Dodge was finally stopped near Highway 18 by a trooper who was able to force the car into a ditch.

The driver refused to get out of the car and remained seated inside, talking on a cellphone and holding a knife, said Merrill. He eventually was subdued with a Taser and dragged from the Dodge. He had a stab wound on his lower body and was taken to Harborview Medical Center, said Merrill. The victim was in critical condition at Harborview on Friday night.

None of the identities of the people in the Subaru was available, said Merrill. Authorities found suspected narcotics, several knives and a set of brass knuckles in the Subaru, he said. Police don't know what led to the earlier fight in the car, said Merrill.

Traffic on I-90 was restricted to one lane eastbound across Lake Washington beginning about 11 a.m. and backed up to I-5 in Seattle before the freeway was reopened shortly after 2 p.m.

Peyton Whitely: 206-464-2259

or pwhitely@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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