Wheel comes off Whatcom County vehicle, hits pedestrian


CUSTER - The Washington State Patrol is investigating how a wheel came off of a Whatcom County Public Works pickup truck and struck a 52-year-old woman who was walking in the 2200 block of Birch Bay-Lynden Road.

Public Works Director Frank Abart said the pickup was an after-hours response vehicle with dual rear wheels on each side. It was on the way to the driver's home from the Public Works building around 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, when the driver's-side outside rear wheel apparently came off, he said.

Abart does not know what caused the wheel to come off.

State Trooper Mark Francis said the driver had been driving the truck around all day without any problems before the wheel came off.

The tire hit the woman and kept rolling, Francis said. The truck driver stopped immediately.

The woman, Kathlene Ruth, was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries, Francis said. She was undergoing surgery Friday afternoon with multiple fractures to her pelvis, femur and tibia. A hospital spokeswoman said Ruth was in serious condition.

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