Original story below.
A driver is in custody and facing felony charges for hitting two female protesters after a group in Seattle blocked a road overnight for the 19th straight day, police officials said.
I-5 was closed just before midnight on July 3, with officers blocking entrances onto a certain portion, Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead told reporters near the scene of the accident. Protesters entered the freeway about 15 minutes later.
Video footage captured at the scene around 1:36 a.m. shows the driver of a white Jaguar hitting the brakes as he tried to drive around three support vehicles that protesters had angled across the freeway, blocking all three lanes.
The driver swerved around the vehicles and drove onto the shoulder, slamming into two protesters as they and others scrambled to try to get out of the way.
The women were thrown into the air before hitting the ground.
Officers do not know where the driver entered the freeway but suspect he entered the wrong way on an exit ramp, Mead said.
“We don’t know what the motive was, what the reasoning was, or how he got through to where he ended up,” he said.
The man, 27, lives in Seattle. He is facing multiple charges, including vehicular assault and felony hit-and-run.
The protesters were described as a 32-year-old from Bellingham and a 24-year-old from Seattle. The former suffered serious injuries and is in stable condition. The younger woman is in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.
Seattle Fire Department units rushed them to Harborview Medical Center.
Two pictures of the driver’s car showed damage to its bumper and windshield.
Protesters have blocked the highway for 19 days in a row and officials hope the tragedy prompts them to stop their illegal activity.
“We’ve worked tirelessly to separate motorists from pedestrians, fearing a tragedy like this could very well happen. I cannot assure pedestrian safety on the interstate,” Mead said.
“My hope is, as a result of this tragedy, the protesters will reconsider their desire to be on the interstate.”