Police hunt for latest driver to crash into Donut Star

Auburn Police are still looking for the latest in a conga line of drivers to try to plow a hole in Donut Star at 914 Auburn Way South — on this occasion late on Tuesday evening, Dec. 6.

Kolby Crossley, Public Information Director for the Auburn Police Department, said that the offender ran off.

“When we arrived on scene around 11 p.m., we found the car, but the driver had fled. It was a stolen vehicle, and was obviously recovered,” Crossley said.

Here, according to the Valley Regional Fire Authority, which was first on the scene, is what happened.

Responding to a report that a vehicle traveling west at a high rate of speed down Mucklehshoot Hill had hit the front of the building at about 11 p.m., firefighters arrived to find that the vehicle had in fact continued through a line of ecology blocks and hit the west side of the building before coming to a stop in the roadway and catching fire.

Firefighters extinguished the fire, searched the vehicle for other passengers, evacuated the building and checked for smoke before contacting a building inspector to check the integrity of the building. The report was given to the city of Auburn’s Building Department and could not be accessed in time for this story.

As noted above, this is by no means the first time a vehicle has crashed into Donut Star.

In October, a car smacked into the barriers the business owners had placed in front of the building.

In June 2018, a pickup truck hit the concrete barriers outside the business, which probably kept it from going into the store. On that occasion the driver of the pickup came close to hitting two customers who were entering the store. No one was injured in that crash, but police arrested the driver for DUI.

Here is a compilation of all other relevant accidents at the site over the last 16 years, as provided by the Auburn Police Department.

2006: Driver of vehicle crashes into concrete barriers in front of Donut Star.

2009: Single car collision. No details available. Collision may have been on roadway.

2009: Single car collision with injuries. Vehicle hits the concrete barriers and store sign.

2018: Single vehicle collision impacts building.

2018: Single vehicle collision impacts building. Driver arrested for DUI.

2020 Single vehicle collision with damage to city light pole, not to actual doughnut shop.

2020: Single vehicle collision with damage to light pole.

One of the owners, who was inside the building at the time of the crash and was not injured, told first responders they watched the driver of the car get out and run off. The business’s surveillance cameras caught the moment, showing the driver opening the door and getting out.

Contacted on Monday, an employee of the business dismissed the idea of relocating, saying that additional barriers might be helpful. The city has jurisdiction over that area of Auburn Way South.

So, is that possible?

In a statement to the Auburn Reporter, the city of Auburn said that the primary causes of crashes at this location are reckless speeding and/or driving under the influence, and not the roadway, and that these crashes should serve as a reminder to avoid speeding and not to drive under the influence.

Also, because Auburn Way South at this location is part of a state highway (SR 164), final approval regarding channelization and traffic controls requires the approval of WSDOT, even though the road is within Auburn city limits, the city said.

“The city has not identified deficiencies in the roadway design that was previously approved by the state and the city has previously installed and maintains supplemental delineators on the roadway at this location,” according to a statement from the city.

In addition, the city said, placement of traffic barriers is typically done in accordance with criteria from national and state guidelines, which do not consider crashes caused by excessive speeding or intoxicated driving to be factors that warrant traffic barriers.

Regardless of whether the criteria were met or not, at this location, the city said placement of barriers would require the closure of the public sidewalk and the driveway accesses to several businesses in order to meet the requirements for their placement along SR 164.

“While it is unfortunate that careless drivers have damaged a longtime local business, we urge all drivers to obey traffic laws such as speed limits, never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and be alert to their surroundings,” the city said.