Excavator joyride victims identified

Staff writersMay 31, 2014 

Two young people killed Thursday while taking a late-night joy ride in an excavator parked at a logging site near Wilkeson have been identified as Jared Lanphear and Aeriel Strough, both 22 years old.

The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s office said Lanphear is from Buckley. No information was immediately available on where Strough lived.

The two died after drinking at a bar with the excavator operator, who took them back to his work site for a ride, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

The driver, a 35-year-old man from Carson, Or., was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. He is expected to live.

The crash happened on a gravel road about 12 miles above Wilkeson near a logging site. Workers building a road shut down the operation for the night Thursday and then at least one man went to have a few drinks at a local bar, officials said.

“The guy met this woman and bar drinking beer, told them what he does and took them back up the mountain to go joyriding in an excavator,” Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.

During the ride, the man accidentally drove the excavator down a steep embankment. He was able to jump off, but the man and woman he met at the bar remained inside as the heavy machinery tumbled down the hill.

The driver was able to walk back to his car and drive down the hill to seek help from a resident on Railroad Avenue. The resident called 911.

Both victims were pronounced dead at the scene.


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