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Two Bellingham police officers injured in SE Washington wreck

Sgt. Chad E. Cristelli, shown in this 2008 photo talking to Theresa Golden of Blaine after a five-car accident in Bellingham, was critically injured in a motorcycle accident near Kahlotus on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.
Sgt. Chad E. Cristelli, shown in this 2008 photo talking to Theresa Golden of Blaine after a five-car accident in Bellingham, was critically injured in a motorcycle accident near Kahlotus on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Two Bellingham police officers were injured Tuesday afternoon, when their motorcycles collided on rural Highway 260 in southeastern Washington, the Washington State Patrol said.

Lt. Scott L. Grunhurd, 51, of Ferndale, and Sgt. Chad E. Cristelli, 47, of Bellingham, were taken by ambulance to Kadlec Medical Center in Richland, where Cristelli was listed in critical condition on Wednesday, a hospital official said. Cristelli was being treated for broken ribs and a punctured lung and was expected to remain hospitalized for a few more days, said Bellingham police spokesman Lt. Bob Vander Yacht.

Grunhurd was treated and released Tuesday.

“The families of the injured officers are with them, as are several members of our staff,” said Bellingham Police Chief Cliff Cook. “Our immediate concern is the welfare of our officers. The support that our officers and agency have received from the law enforcement community in the Tri-Cities area has been exceptional, and we are truly thankful for all of (the) positive messages of support that we are receiving.”

Cristelli, president of the Bellingham Police Guild from 2011-2015, was lauded by the department in 2010 for his actions in pursuit of an armed murder suspect who later committed suicide. He’s currently assigned to the training division and is a former traffic officer, according to Bellingham Herald files.

Grunhurd oversees the Office of Professional Responsibility, according to the city of Bellingham website.

They were riding their personal motorcycles, traveling with a group of riders when the crash occurred, Vander Yacht said.

According to the State Patrol, Grunhurd and Cristell were in the same lane eastbound about 3 miles east of the Kahlotus city limits at 4:20 p.m. when Grunhurd’s 2015 Harley-Davidson slowed and moved right. Cristelli’s 2001 Harley-Davidson, which was behind him and to the right, struck Grunhurd’s motorcycle.

Both bikes were a total loss. Both riders had proper motorcycle endorsements and were wearing approved helmets, according to the State Patrol.

The cause of the wreck remains under investigation.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @bhamMitty

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