VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — An investigation was launched after a woman in custody jumped out of a deputy’s patrol vehicle while he was driving southbound on I-5 near Ridgefield, authorities said.
KOIN 6 News learned the woman involved is 45-year-old Sara Gottwig-Carr. Authorities said the incident happened around noon on Monday near 199th Street just before the Clark County Fairgrounds. Gottwig-Carr remained in critical condition at a hospital on Tuesday.
Clark County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Billy Childers was behind the wheel when the woman reportedly jumped from the vehicle. Childers was driving Gottwig-Carr to jail for a domestic violence arrest. While handcuffed behind her back, Gottwig-Carr managed to unbuckle her seatbelt and jump out of the rear passenger window, officials said.
Investigators are working to determine why Gottwig-Carr leaped from a moving patrol vehicle and how the window was able to be opened. Due to the woman’s injuries, investigators have not been able to speak with her.
“We don’t know if he opened the window, we don’t know how the window became open at this point — that’s still part of the investigation, so I can’t really speak to that,” said Washington State Patrol Trooper Will Finn.
Childers immediately pulled over and tried to help Gottwig-Carr, who reportedly landed on the shoulder of the freeway.
“You talk about a traumatic situation, one that you witness and then have to render aid — it’s traumatic,” Finn said.
Childers has since been put on leave.
Ashley Rappleye was driving on I-5, not far behind the Clark County Sheriff SUV, when she saw the woman jump out of the SUV’s window.
“When she started coming out, it looked like a blanket or a coat or something was being blown out the window,” Rappleye said. “And then as she toppled and I could see her face and her body and I’m like ‘oh my gosh.’ She looked like a rag doll just flopping lifelessly along the road.”
As for whether any law enforcement protocols will be changed in light of this incident, authorities said that will depend on the findings of their investigation.