East County fire captain gives aid, gets misfortune


Driver of head-on collision steals truck and boat of man trying to help

BATTLE GROUND — ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’ 

That saying was all too applicable to James Troutman and his friend Travis Langer on Monday. 

James Troutman, east County Fire and Rescue captain. Photo courtesy of KGW
James Troutman, east County Fire and Rescue captain. Photo courtesy of KGW

Troutman spoke with KGW earlier this week about the harrowing experience of witnessing a head on collision on 179th Street while the two men were returning from a fishing trip.

“There was a car in front of us,” Troutman told KGW. “And I just mentioned to Travis that this guy was driving really erratically when I saw him cross the center line and (cause a) head-on collision into another car.”

Troutman, who is a captain with East County Fire and Rescue, immediately blocked the road with his Ford pickup which was towing his boat, and then leapt out to assist those injured in the crash.

Troutman describes the man who caused the crash as “shaky, twitchy, running around real nervous.”

The accident occurred near this stretch of 179th Street near Battle Ground. Photo by Mike Schultz
The accident occurred near this stretch of 179th Street near Battle Ground. Photo by Mike Schultz

As soon as sirens could be heard, Troutman says the unidentified man cursed and jumped into his truck.

“Travis went to the passenger side, I went to the driver’s side to reach in and get the keys that he had found,” says Troutman. “When that happened, he took off, pulling me along and hurting my knee.”

The truck hit Langer hard enough to break the phone in his pocket before the driver fled the scene with Clark County deputies in pursuit.

The deputies eventually called off the chase as the truck entered Portland. It has not been recovered. It is a grey 2019 Ford F-150 XLT.

James Troutman’s Ford F-150, which was stolen as he tried to assist at a crash scene. Photo courtesy James Troutman
James Troutman’s Ford F-150, which was stolen as he tried to assist at a crash scene. Photo courtesy James Troutman

Troutman did get his boat back, but stripped of thousands of dollar’s worth of equipment. 

“You need to do the right thing, you want to do the right thing, but when something like this happens, it’s really frustrating,” said Troutman.

The fire chief is now out of work for an extended period of time due to injuries he sustained in the attempt to stop the thief. His friends have set up a GoFundMe that can be found here

KGW News/Tim Gordon contributed to this report

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About The Author

Jacob Granneman is a filmmaker and writer from Clark County. He is a graduate of WSU Pullman’s Edward R. Murrow College where he studied journalism and media production. He has produced documentary stories all over the Pacific Northwest and abroad in Argentina. He has won a regional Emmy and Mark of Excellence award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his film work. His passions range from sharing the love of Jesus, to cinematography, to going on adventures in the most beautiful place on earth, i.e. his backyard. He lives with his wife and son in Vancouver, WA. Proverbs 16:3

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