A state trooper pleaded not guilty this afternoon to charges that he failed to remain at the scene of an injury accident and then attempted to elude authorities.
David Lambert Bertholf, 48, was off-duty Sunday when he allegedly hit a vehicle and fled as traffic slowed on eastbound state Route 16 near Union Ave, State Patrol spokesman Cpt. Rob Huss said.
Bertholf has been with the State Patrol for 20 years, and is currently a K-9 handler trooper assigned to the homeland security division out of the Bainbridge area, Huss said.
Witnesses called in the accident about 2:40 p.m. Sunday.
Driving his personal SUV, Bertholf continued to northbound I-5 and was followed by a witness who was on the phone to the State Patrol, Huss said.
According to court records:
An on-duty trooper met up with Bertholf on I-5 and followed him to Portland Avenue, where he tried to conduct a traffic stop.
Bertholf then switched lanes and sped up to about 50 mph.
He began weaving through traffic, swerving and crossing over the center lane divider and almost hitting the raised center median multiple times, the trooper said in the documents.
Bertholf stopped near East 34th Street and threw the keys out of the vehicle, at which point the pursuing trooper approached the car and recognized him as someone he used to work with.
Bertholf recognized the pursuing trooper too and began swearing at him.
He was arrested and later booked into Pierce County Jail.
Blood test results to determine if Bertholf was intoxicated at the time are pending.
The pursuing trooper observed that Bertholf had an odor of intoxicants on his breath and that he was uneasy on his feet.
Bertholf did not give an “‘honest effort’” when it was time for the breath test, which was recorded as a refusal, the records show.
Bail was set at 35,000.