A retired Olympia schoolteacher accused of driving the wrong way on Interstate 5 for more than 17 miles while drunk, at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, pleaded not guilty Thursday to driving while intoxicated.
Pamela Jean Drawsby, 60, was ordered released on her personal recognizance during a court hearing Thursday before Thurston County District Court Judge Brett Buckley. She has no criminal history, according to Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cassandra Jones.
Police reports indicate that Drawsby registered a 0.12 percent blood-alcohol level after Washington State Patrol troopers finally stopped her white Lincoln near the main gates of Joint Base Lewis-McChord early Wednesday morning. The legal limit for drivers is 0.08 percent.
Jones added that Drawsby might have been under the influence of several medications, including OxyCodone. Jones had asked Buckley to set Drawsby’s bail at $5,000.
As a condition of Drawsby’s release, Buckley required her to wear a bracelet that will notify the court if she consumes alcohol. She also is required to use an ignition-interlock device that will prevent her car from starting if she has had alcohol.
Trooper Guy Gill said law enforcement got word of an erratic driver before 2 a.m. Wednesday, when the vehicle was spotted blocking the intersection at Capital Boulevard and Custer Way in Tumwater with no lights on. Moments later, concerned drivers flooded 911 with calls “in awe” as the Lincoln entered I-5’s southbound lanes and proceeded to head north, Gill said.
Semi-truck driver Ron Worthey, 52, of Buckley said the car came within about 5 feet of hitting his truck and that he’s lucky to be alive. He said he immediately called 911.
“You didn’t even see her until it was almost too late,” Worthey said. “I wouldn’t have even had time to swerve if she was headed toward me … If it’s your time to go, then it’s your time to go, and evidently, this wasn’t mine.”
Gill said troopers and law enforcement from Thurston and Pierce counties “paralleled” the woman’s car on I-5’s northbound lanes but did not pursue her in the wrong direction on I-5. Gill said it was a miracle that no one was killed.
“I compare her to a bullet coming out of the barrel of a gun, and that bullet has to hit something,” Gill said. “She is lucky and we are lucky that we were able to get her stopped.”
Spike strips were deployed, but it is unclear whether they brought the car to a stop, Gill said.
“You can go a long way on rims,” he said. Gill said the Lincoln gradually slowed to a stop as a massive police presence mobilized to intercept the vehicle.
Gill added, “when we contacted her, she literally did not know that she was on the freeway.”
He said troopers were surprised when “we met a very docile 60-year-old female who was highly impaired.”
Gill said Drawsby was booked into the Thurston County Jail on Wednesday morning and immediately posted bail.
The News Tribune