The operator of a motorcycle involved in a high-speed crash on Lincoln Street in Hoquiam Tuesday afternoon died at the hospital shortly after the accident.
James Cody Stearns, 30, of Hoquiam was pronounced dead at Harbor Regional Health Community Hospital in Aberdeen at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday, according to Grays Harbor County Coroner Robert Kegel. An autopsy will be performed.
According to Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers, a Hoquiam officer tried to make a traffic stop on the motorcycle for expired tags at the intersection of Simpson Avenue and Fifth Street at around 12:30 p.m. When the officer turned on his lights, the motorcycle operator fled, with a female passenger.
“He took a left on Eighth and started to speed up,” said Myers. The driver then took a left onto Levee Street at a high rate of speed, at which point Myers said the officer terminated the pursuit because of high traffic volumes.
Witnesses said the motorcycle turned off Levee onto Lincoln Street heading northbound, gaining speed. Witnesses at the nearby Shell station and elsewhere said the vehicle was going 80 to 90 mph northbound on Lincoln; some witnesses at the scene estimated it was closer to 100.
At that time, a woman who was stopped at the stop sign westbound on Chenault Avenue, at the intersection with Lincoln next to the 101 Bar and Grill, was attempting to pull her car onto Lincoln. She had made it about halfway across the intersection, said Myers, when the motorcycle hit the front end of the vehicle, tearing away the front bumper. She said at the scene that she didn’t see the bike until impact.
Both the male operator and a female passenger were ejected and continued down and across Lincoln for several hundred feet. Myers said the operator appeared to have hit a US Postal Service blue mailbox on the west sidewalk near Bluff Avenue. The motorcycle continued into the driveway of a residence across Bluff Avenue, striking a parked minivan before coming to rest. The female passenger, thrown even farther, was able to get to her feet and run back to the area of the operator.
Myers said both went to the hospital. The female passenger was “alert and conscious” after the accident, he said.
Myers said the State Patrol and Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office were called in to assist with the investigation. The roadway was blocked in both directions until about 3:45 p.m. as investigators went through the long trail of debris left by the accident. The woman driving the car that was involved was visibly shaken at the scene but uninjured.