TAHOLAH — A 31-year-old man was arrested Tuesday evening in connection to the fatal hit-and-run at the Donkey Creek Campground area over the weekend, according to The Associated Press.
The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office said the 31-year-old suspect is from Hoquiam. He was not identified.
Undersheriff David Pimentel called the attack on two Quinault tribal members “unprovoked” and “deliberate,” and the sheriff’s office is investigating the attack as second-degree murder.
Tribal President Fawn Sharp believes the attack could be a hate crime, according to a news release the tribe issued Monday.
Taholah resident James “Jimmy” Kramer, 20, died Sunday after saving 19-year-old Harvey Anderson of Aberdeen, who was seriously injured early Saturday morning near the Humptulips Campground, according to a news release from the tribe.
Anderson was transferred to Multicare Tacoma General Hospital from Grays Harbor Community Hospital in Aberdeen because of complications from his injuries, the tribe said.
His condition was unavailable Tuesday.
“Jimmy died a hero and he suffered his deadly injuries as he dove and shoved his friend Harvey out of harm’s way,” said Larry Ralston, Quinault tribal treasurer, whose daughter and son-in-law had raised Kramer since he was 4 years old, according to the release.
“Jimmy was always a keen hunter and most of all a father, a friend, a family member and a father whose life was taken from him senselessly,” Ralston said.
Kramer was celebrating his birthday with friends Saturday before his life-ending injuries.
At about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, a large, lifted, white 1990s Chevrolet pickup was driving recklessly, doing doughnuts on a gravel bar at the Donkey Creek Campgrounds, according to the sheriff’s office.
Since the incident, there have been conflicting reports of what exactly led to the truck running over the two young men.
The sheriff’s office said in a news release that campers became upset with the driver’s behavior and an argument ensued.
When the driver continued doing doughnuts, one of the campers threw a rock at the vehicle and broke a window, prompting the driver to back his truck over Kramer and Anderson, Pimentel said.
“The rock was thrown prior to the two individuals being run over,” Pimentel said Tuesday. “All indications are it happened before and after the two individuals were run over.”
The tribe disputed that account in a news release headlined “What Really Happened at Donkey Creek.”
Steve Robinson, spokesman for the tribe, said rocks were thrown only after the two men had been run over.
The tribe, in the release, also said the driver, described as white and in his mid-30s, was screaming racial slurs and war whoops when he ran over the two tribal members.
“Our entire tribe is distraught over this incident,” said Sharp. “We work hard to be good friends with our neighboring communities.
“If it is, in fact, determined that this was a hate crime, it will add even more distress and sadness to our loss of this outstanding young man and the injury of the other.”
Sharp said she believed the people involved should be charged with first-degree murder and that once suspects are identified, the tribe will prepare a motion to bar them from ever entering the Quinault Reservation.
Pimentel said the sheriff’s office has no indication that there were any racial slurs.
“At this point, we do not believe that,” he said, adding that it is not being investigated as a hate crime.
Both the sheriff’s office and tribe said there was a woman in the truck screaming at the driver, trying to get him to stop.
The tribe said it is working with the Grays Harbor County Prosecutor’s Office to offer a reward to anyone who is willing to work with law enforcement to testify and to help prosecute the driver. Robinson did not have details about the reward.
Pimentel said the sheriff’s office is the lead agency on the case and that the Quinault Police Department is sharing information in hopes of finding the driver.
He encourages anyone who witnessed what happened or has information about the attack to call the Gray’s Harbor Sheriff’s Office at 360-249-3711.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.