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Cars roll over on slippery Whidbey roads

Washington State Patrol Trooper Scott Wernecke walks toward the scene of a rollover accident on Highway 20 just north of Coupeville.  - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
Washington State Patrol Trooper Scott Wernecke walks toward the scene of a rollover accident on Highway 20 just north of Coupeville.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

Slick road conditions were the likely cause of a rollover accident that sent a Coupeville woman to the hospital Monday.

According to Washington State Patrol Trooper Jason Nichols, 37-year-old Stephanie Wilson was heading northbound on Highway 20 shortly after 8 a.m. when the 2002 Suzuki XL7 SUV she was driving veered off the roadway, hitting an embankment and rolling over.

"She hit a patch of ice and lost control," Nichols said.

Although the vehicle was severely damaged, Wilson escaped serious injury. Nichols said she was talking with paramedics and was transported to Whidbey General Hospital for what he said was likely just a precautionary measure.

Hospital spokeswoman Trish Rose confirmed that Wilson was treated and released the same day.

Nichols said speed did not appear to be a factor in the accident. The section of roadway was shaded and frost accumulation from the night before had not yet been exposed to the sun making the area extremely slick.

While he couldn't say for sure, Nichols said it's possible that Wilson lost control because she was accelerating. Drivers tend to speed up when going up hills and decelerate going down them. If she was in the process of speeding up, it could have caused the wheels to loose traction in the frosty conditions, he said.

Wilson hasn't been the only person to run into trouble on Whidbey roads over the past few days. On Sunday and Monday alone, Nichols said road conditions were responsible for multiple accidents on North and Central Whidbey.

Two occurred Sunday morning on Highway 20 just north of where Wilson lost control of her vehicle, and another car rolled over on Highway 20 near Monkey Hill Road at about the same time as Wilson's accident Monday.

"It was all from the ice," he said.

Within a few hours of the interview with Nichols, another car rolled over on Heller Street and 8th Avenue in Oak Harbor and a second vehicle slid down an embankment on Crescent Harbor and Reservation roads. Before the end of the day, a third vehicle would roll over on a section off Smuggler's Cove Road. All three accidents were confirmed as ice related.

According to North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Marv Koorn, of the North Whidbey wrecks only the Monkey Hill Road rollover resulted in injury. The man was transported to Whidbey General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, he said.

Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin confirmed that the Smuggler's Cove Road accident resulted in a one-car rollover. He also reported no serious injuries.

Both Hartin and Koorn warned the public that winter driving is hazardous and that extra care must be taken. While it's easy to be lulled into false confidence by sunshine, shaded areas should be treated with particular caution.

"Any place it's shady, it's still icy," Hartin said.

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