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Woman is held in probe of brawl on Washington ferry

  • Author: Sara Jean Green, The Seattle Times
  • Updated: October 18, 2016
  • Published October 18, 2016

SEATTLE — Fights aboard ferries aren't unheard of, but the wild brawl that erupted Monday night during the Bremerton-to-Seattle run and prompted a captain to turn around the vessel was "pretty rare," said a spokesman for Washington State Ferries. "These folks were fighting and would not stop fighting," said Ian Sterling. "Apparently it got pretty violent."

One of the alleged combatants, a 23-year-old Seattle woman, appeared Tuesday afternoon before a Kitsap County judge, who found probable cause to hold her on investigation of two counts of third-degree assault for allegedly assaulting two ferry crew members. Her bail was set at $15,000.

The fight between the woman and a man "escalated to the point the crew wasn't able to control it," Sterling said. It reportedly ranged from the passenger cabin to car deck during the 7:55 p.m. crossing.

According to the Washington State Patrol, ferry crew members were attacked when they tried to break up the fight. At one point, the woman began taking off her clothes, police say.

"Our crew was assaulted" and at 8:12 p.m., "the captain decided he had enough" and asked dispatchers at the ferry system's operation center to call 911, Sterling said.

Fights aboard ferries aren't all that uncommon — especially on the Seattle-to-Bremerton run after large sporting events — but fights that get to the point where a captain "turns the boat around, that's pretty rare," said Sterling.

According to Bremerton police reports, the woman and her boyfriend, a 51-year-old Bremerton man, had dinner in Bremerton and were on their way to the woman's home in Seattle when the fight erupted. After boarding the ferry, crew members saw the couple arguing, then saw the woman assault the man, the reports say.

She "was very animated, she was flailing, spitting and yelling unintelligibly" and was naked from the waist up, the reports say.

Crew members tried to break up the fight after seeing the woman punch the man repeatedly in the head and neck, and the woman then became aggressive toward the ferry workers, says the felony complaint outlining the State Patrol's case against her.

A 51-year-old ferry worker was spit on several times, and the second mate, a 54-year-old woman, was repeatedly slapped, says the complaint, which names the two as the assault victims.

Additionally, a 30-year-old ferry worker was scratched and spit on and a 53-year-old crew member had her glasses ripped off and thrown to the car deck when she attempted to cover up the woman, the complaint says.

At one point, the woman stripped off all her clothes, but pulled her pants back up and walked around the ferry topless until crew members could restrain her and drape her sweatshirt around her, according to the complaint.

The State Patrol took the woman into custody at the Bremerton dock with the aid of police, according to Sterling and the felony complaint.

The woman actively resisted being restrained and braced "her legs and feet against the door jam" of a patrol car, say the police reports. Officers were eventually able to get her in the vehicle.

After her arrival at the Kitsap County Jail, the woman kicked the door of the patrol car, pushing it into the jail staff, says the complaint. She continued spitting and thrashing around and had to be carried inside, it says.

The boyfriend later told an officer he did not want to pursue charges, say the reports.

The Seattle Times is not naming the woman because she has not been charged.

Under state law, third-degree assault charges typically involve assaults against police officers, firefighters, medical personnel, transit operators and judicial officers while that person is performing his or her official duties at the time of the assault.

(Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this story.)

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