(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
Quick action by Chewelah Police result in arrest at city park…
A semi-truck driver for an area trucking company had a rifle and pistol pulled on him after a road rage incident in December, according to police documents, but quick action by Stevens County Deputies and Chewelah Police resulted in an arrest just minutes later.
Dwayne Tindal, a driver for Swanson Hay Co., was hauling with his son-in-law when the incident started. He’d moved over his 105,000-pound loaded truck over to avoid some deer in the Valley area. He said a blue Jeep with Arizona license plates driven by Sean Thin Elk, trying to pass on a double-line took offense to this. The driver of the jeep a brake-checked him twice on the windy road.
“We came inches from his bumper and stopping moved the load a few feet,” Tindal said.
The car then sped off and parked at the intersection of Hwy. 395 and Hwy. 231 south of Chewelah.
When Tindal and his son-in-law approached, they could see the driver had a rifle similar to an AR-15 pointed at the truck and also brandished a pistol.
“My son-in-law was pretty sure he heard the rifle cock,” Tindal said. “It was terrifying. I tried to back up, but there was a car behind us. We were sure that gunfire was going to erupt. I thought we were both dead.”
Tindal said it also appeared that the man, who had his son in the vehicle, was wearing a bullet-proof vest.
Instead of firing, the man screamed at Tindal and then sped off northbound on Highway 395.
Tindal said it took a minute for him to regain his composure before calling 911. He said he was surprised once he had gotten from the turnoff to Chewelah, Thin Elk had already been arrested.
According to Stevens County Sheriff and Chewelah Police reports, Deputy Travis Frizzell assisted Chewelah Police Officer Matt Miller in response to Tindal’s call. He observed the vehicle traveling northbound and pulled the man over at the Chewelah City Park as Miller pulled up to the traffic stop.
Due to the situation of a weapon being brandished, they performed a felony stop and the driver cooperated with authorities. The passenger in the vehicle was also apprehended.
The driver’s wife, Theresa Thin Elk, then approached Officer Miller and began yelling at him. She was then advised to stay back in her vehicle.
A Washington state trooper also responded to the incident and worked with Tindal’s son-in-law to determine the sections of the road where Thin Elk had brake-checked the semi.
Sean Thin Elk has been charged with assault including felony harassment and a threat to kill.
Tindal said that he’s been driving truck since 1982 and while he’s been brake-checked before, this is the first time someone pulled a gun on him.
“People and drivers seem to be getting more and more aggressive,” he added. “This is the scariest thing I’ve experienced. I was still shaking when I talked to police.”
Tindal said this was 100 percent a road rage incident and was unclear with what was going through the driver’s mind.
“People also don’t get that trucks can’t stop on a dime and you have to give us some space,” Tindal said. “That brake-checking could have killed the guy, or killed us if we decided to run off the road. I just swear there is less common sense in the population.”