Twenty-eight years ago Washington State Patrol Trooper Steven Frink pursued a speeding driver along Interstate 90 near Mercer Island when he turned his motorcycle to avoid the fleeing vehicle that had crashed going the wrong way in the tunnel.
Frink, a 1972 graduate of Kentridge High School, was forced to drive his motorcycle up onto the tunnel wall, striking a barrier to avoid the crashed car. The eight-year State Patrol veteran died four days later, March 22, 1993 from his injuries, just two days after his 39th birthday.
The State Patrol issued a press release March 19 about Frink to pause to commemorate those who died in the line of service as part of the agency’s 100th year of service.
“The Washington State Patrol holds the memory of Steven Frink dear as we do each of the 31 men and women who have died in the line of duty during our 100 years of service to the state of Washington,” according to a State Patrol statement. “As many have before him and since, he was a veteran who served his country in a time of war. As many before him and since, he was a lover of the outdoors and committed to the stewardship of our state’s beautiful natural resources. As many before him and since, he was a family man – a father, son, brother, and husband who loved and was loved by his family and friends.
“Though his pathway was common to many, his journey was unique and important. He took on many challenges, fought for many causes, and touched many lives. We hold his sacrifice in honor and appreciate the service he so courageously provided.”
Frink was the 25th State Patrol member to lose his life in the line of duty. He was a trained forester, an Army veteran and a veteran police office having also served with the Bellevue Police Department prior to joining the State Patrol in 1985. He left behind a wife, a daughter and son, grieving parents, and a brother who also served in the State Patrol.
Frink was born to Gordon V. Frink and Lorene Marie Derrick on March 20, 1954, in Norfolk, Nebraska. The family moved to Washington where Frink graduated from Kentridge High School. He was active in football, basketball and baseball. His sport of choice was baseball, playing third base and shortstop for the Chargers. He continued his education at Green River College in Auburn, receiving his associate of arts degree in forestry in 1975 and was employed by the U.S. Forest Service from 1975 to 1978.
Frink joined the U.S. Army, serving as a military policeman stationed in Germany and reservist in the Criminal Investigation Division from 1979 to 1983. After his military service, his interest in law enforcement continued and he served the Bellevue Police Department as a support officer beginning in 1984. He retained the position until being hired as a trooper cadet by the State Patrol in 1985.
Cadet Frink became a member of the 62nd Trooper Basic Training Class and was commissioned Dec. 20, 1985, assigned to Bellevue. Trooper Frink joined the Bellevue motorcycle unit two years later.
Still an Army reservist, Frink was called to active duty during Desert Storm from Feb. 26, 1991 to June 27, 1991. He returned to his State Patrol road duties after his tour was complete.
Frink was posthumously awarded the Washington Law Enforcement Medal of Honor on May 17, 1996. He was survived by his wife, Gayle; daughter, Kari; son, Christian; his parents and his brother, Stuart Frink, who is retired from the Washington State Patrol.
End of watch
On March 22, 1993, Frink attempted to stop a speeding 15-year-old Bellevue High School student traveling on I-90. The driver failed to yield and exited to Island Crest Way. The 15-year-old collided with a jersey barrier and lost control, coming to rest facing the wrong way in the tunnel. Frink followed the fleeing vehicle into the tunnel and was forced to drive his motorcycle up onto the tunnel wall, striking a barrier to avoid the crashed car.
The 15-year-old fled the scene and was later taken into custody by the Mercer Island Police Department. Trooper Frink was taken to Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, where he later succumbed to his injuries.