PACKWOOD, Wash. - A Lewis County deputy who ran into an elk with his police car on Monday night on Highway 12 near Packwood has died.
The Lewis County Sheriff's Office says 34-year-old Stephen "Mike" Gallagher of Adna succumbed to his injuries at 8:05 p.m. Tuesday.
The sheriff's office was expected to hold a press conference on Wednesday.
Gallagher was on his way to help another deputy, responding to a domestic violence call, at about 8:30 p.m. Monday when the accident happened.
Sharanne and Gene Cheney heard and felt the deputy's car crash through the storage shed in front of their home before slamming into a telephone pole.
"It shook the house, so he thought it was an earthquake," said Sharanne. "The angle he was coming, he would have come into our house."
Before the accident, the deputy had just sped past motorcyclist Stephen Plumley.
"He passed me at a high rate of speed,' he said.
Plumley took photos when he came upon the scene. He also tried to help.
"'I said can you hear me?' There was no response; his eyes were closed," he said.
It's said that the elk outnumber the humans in and around Packwood.
"Every night we have up to a maybe a dozen elk behind our house," said Gene Cheney.
There have been discussions about lifting hunting restrictions in this part of the county, but the Cheneys say that won't solve the problem.
"What we need is a sign out here that says, that's flashing and gets their attention that you're in an elk area," said Gene Cheney.
Any changes will come too late for Gallagher.
"That's what really affected me the most. I thought about his family. I thought about him. I really prayed for him," said Sharanne Cheney.
Gallagher worked as a deputy for six years. According to the Sheriff's Office, Gallagher worked as a Corrections Officer at the county jail until he was hired as a deputy. He leaves behind a wife and two young children.