Tow truck crews hoist a car into the air and pull it to a waiting flatbed truck on Wednesday after its driver lost control and landed upside down in a skating bowl at the Port Angeles Skate Park at Erickson Playfield on Tuesday night. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Tow truck crews hoist a car into the air and pull it to a waiting flatbed truck on Wednesday after its driver lost control and landed upside down in a skating bowl at the Port Angeles Skate Park at Erickson Playfield on Tuesday night. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles Skate Park closed after car drives through fence into bowl

Driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel

PORT ANGELES — Tow truck operators worked for about three hours Wednesday to lift a passenger car from the bottom of a Port Angeles Skate Park bowl where it had landed on its roof.

The driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Port Angeles Police Cpl. Bruce Fernie on Wednesday.

“Officers talked to him on-scene for 30 to 45 minutes and there were no signs of impairment” or a medical issue, Fernie said.

The 31-year-old man extricated himself and was not injured, according to police.

He was not arrested.

“We are discussing reckless or negligent driving, but nothing has been sent over to the prosecutor yet,” Fernie said.

Although the driver was not impaired, the case still will be referred to the prosecuting attorney’s office for driving violations, a police department press release said.

Fernie said Port Angeles Police Department policy is not to release names until a person is formally charged.

The driver was northbound on Race Street, then veered west across the southbound lane, through the fence along Race Street and into the skate park bowl, according to Deputy Chief Jason Viada.

A security camera at the park caught the car coming through the fence, flipping over and landing in one of the bowls, according to Fernie.

A security camera was installed at the skate park in the summer of 2006. Peninsula Daily News has submitted a public records request for the security camera footage.

The car was lifted out of the skate park bowl Wednesday afternoon by a tow truck crew with two tow trucks and loaded onto a flatbed trailer.

Peninsula Towing Manager Chris Ritchie said the four people on the three-hour operation were able to remove the car with “tow trucks and knowledge.”

They couldn’t just pull it out because they wanted to avoid gouging the skate park’s concrete, so they lined up two trucks across from one another and ran a line between them, he said.

Then they used a couple of blocks that ride on the cable with a hook on the other end and a bridle on the bottom of the car that hooked to the two blocks, Ritchie said.

They tightened the line to pick up the car about 8 feet, he said.

“We didn’t want to go any higher in case something went wrong.”

Each truck has two booms, so they pulled on one and paid out on the other until the car reached one of the trucks, then lowered it on the back of the flatbed on its roof, Ritchie said.

Since they were so close to their wrecking yard, it was easier to transport the car on its roof and flip it over there, he said.

“It was about a three-hour operation once we got lashed up,” Ritchie said. “I’ve pulled cars out of car washes, but this is the first one that I did in a skate pit.”

Corey Delikat, Port Angeles Parks and Recreation director, wrote in a Wednesday afternoon email that he didn’t have a lot of information regarding what will happen next.

“Currently, the skate park is closed, but we were able to get the car out. That was step one,” Delikat said.

“Step two is going back to the park and seeing if there was any damage to the skate bowl itself,” he continued.

“This will determine next steps if repairs are needed and, if not, us getting the park reopened.”

Delikat wrote that the repair work likely will be done internally by a city crew so he didn’t anticipate the project going before the Port Angeles City Council.

The world-class skate park on Race Street at the northeast corner of Erickson Playfield opened in early September 2005. It was designed by Grindline, a Seattle-based company credited with the design and construction of some of the best skate parks in the world.

The project was a joint venture between the city of Port Angeles and area residents. The Nor’wester Rotary Club leant its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status to the fundraising effort for the project, which eventually cost $300,000 — $200,000 in cash and $100,000 in in-kind donations.

________

Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at brian.gawley@soundpublishing.com.

Towing personnel work out a strategy to remove an overturned car from the Port Angeles Skate Park at Erickson Playfield on Wednesday after the car crashed into the park on Tuesday night. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Towing personnel work out a strategy to remove an overturned car from the Port Angeles Skate Park at Erickson Playfield on Wednesday after the car crashed into the park on Tuesday night. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

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