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Whidbey wreck injures two, including Good Samaritan

An overturned Volvo sits on its roof near Arnold Road on Highway 20 Tuesday morning. The wreck resulted in two women receiving injuries, although only one was involved in the accident. - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
An overturned Volvo sits on its roof near Arnold Road on Highway 20 Tuesday morning. The wreck resulted in two women receiving injuries, although only one was involved in the accident.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

In a strange twist, two women were injured in a rollover accident near the corner of Highway 20 and Arnold Road Tuesday morning but only one was involved in the wreck.

According to Washington State Patrol Trooper Scott Wernecke, at about 8:15 a.m., Karis Mills, 34 of Oak Harbor, was driving southbound on Highway 20 when the back tires of her dark blue older model Volvo began to slip out while negotiating the sharp curve just past Arnold Road.

"She started fishtailing and when the back of her car hit the ditch, it caused the vehicle to roll over," Wernecke said.

Mills, who is pregnant, appeared to have escaped serious injury. However, complaining of neck and back pain and nausea, she was transported to Whidbey General Hospital as a precautionary measure, Wernecke said.

Although no other cars were involved in the rollover, another person was injured just moments after the accident. Nicole Brown, 36, of Coupeville, was following behind Mills and saw the crash happen. Pulling over to help, the woman got out of her car only to slip on the wet pavement.

"To add insult to injury, now she is going to the hospital," Wernecke said.

Like Mills, Brown's injuries seemed minor. She was also transported to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

The sharp curve near Arnold Road has long been the site of serious accidents. In September, 26-year-old Anacortes resident Alexis Gilman was killed while on her way to work when her car crossed the centerline. Her vehicle was struck a pickup truck driven by a 52-year-old Coupeville man. Gilman died at the scene.

"That was almost on the exact same spot as this accident," Wernecke said.

According to Washington Department of Transportation officials, from 2005 to 2009, 90 collisions have occurred on Highway 20 from Sidney Street to Libbey Road. The sheer number of accidents has spurred the department to commit to a $9.5 million road project to make the section of highway safer. It is planned to launch in 2011.

According to Wernecke, Tuesday morning's accident is still under investigation but alcohol and speed do not appear to have been factors in the accident. A combination of wet road conditions and worn and under-inflated tires were likely the largest contributor, he said.

Highway 20, from Arnold to Holbrook roads, was closed for about an hour because of the accident. Mills was issued a citation for "Driving off the travel portion of the road." It carries the standard motor vehicle collision fine of $175.


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