Dog inside car causes crash that killed 29-year-old Kent woman

TACOMA, Wash. – A Pierce County man is sharing a warning for other drivers to beware when traveling with animals that aren’t secured inside moving vehicles.

On July 22, the Washington State Patrol responded to a fatal vehicle accident on State Route 7 near Eatonville.

Diana Hays, 29, of Kent, died after the vehicle she was a passenger in left the roadway and struck a tree.

The driver of that vehicle, Joshua Hanson, told Q13 News that Hays was in the backseat of his SUV with the couple’s three dogs when the crash happened.

Troopers reported that drugs or alcohol were not a factor in the fatal collision that impacted traffic for more than three hours.

“It’s just so hard to realize that she’s gone,” he said. “I wake up every morning just hoping it’s going to be a nightmare. And that she’ll be walking in the door, or roll over and give me a kiss.”

Only Hanson was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, and he says one of the dogs is to blame for the accident.

“She was sitting in the back seat taking care of the dogs,” he said. “One of the dogs got scared and jumped in my lap, he grabbed the steering wheel and took it straight into a tree.”

Diana’s dog Dakota survived the crash but ran off. Hanson said trackers believe he is still alive.

Hanson told Q13 News he wanted to share his story in the hope that someone finds Diana’s dog, but also to remind others of the dangers when pets aren’t secured inside a moving car.

“If you have pets, make sure they’re buckled in, too,” he said. “They’re just as much as a distraction as anything else out there.”