UPDATE: Highway 20 crash sends three to hospital
By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
August 26, 2011 · Updated 3:29 PM
A three-car collision on Highway 20 in Coupeville Thursday sent three men to the hospital and closed a section of the road for more than an hour.
The accident occurred just after 4 p.m. at the intersection of Ebey Road and NW Broadway on Highway 20. The intersection is located just west of the traffic light and pedestrian overpass at Coupeville.
According to Washington State Patrol Trooper Jason Nichols, Nathan Mills, Christopher Gosselin and David Wicks, all 29, were transported to Whidbey General Hospital. Mills and Gosselin were released later that day but Wicks was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. A hospital spokeman said Friday he was in intensive care in critical condition.
Nichols said he believed all three are military personnel and that Mills is from Oak Harbor. However, it’s unclear whether the other two men are also from Oak Harbor as they had Minnesota driver’s licenses.
The three men were northbound on Highway 20 in a newer model Honda Odyssey minivan approaching NW Broadway when a large flatbed pickup traveling in the opposite direction crossed the center line.
“He (the driver) pretty much T-boned the truck, running into its wheel,” Nichols said.
The truck, a Skagit River Steel Recycling flatbed driven by Camano Island resident Ross Gibbens, 57, was swerving to avoid a car that was stopped and waiting to make a left turn onto Broadway.
Gibbens said he slammed on the brakes and veered to the left at the last second but that it wasn’t enough to avoid a collision. The rear passenger-side wheel of his truck struck the back of the stopped car before the truck continued on into the oncoming lane of traffic.
“This could very easily have been a fatality collision,” Nichols said.
The driver of the stopped car, Coupeville resident Erik King, 19, said he wasn’t injured. However, his vehicle, a newer model Toyota Camry, was totaled.
Gibbens was not hurt either. He acknowledged responsibility, saying he didn’t see the brake lights of King’s car and didn’t realize he was stopped until it was too late. He expressed remorse for the accident and the three injured men.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m walking away and everyone else seems to be hurt.”
Thursday’s accident was a near mirror image of a three-car accident that occurred at the very same intersection almost exactly one month ago. It also resulted in three people being transported to the hospital and Nichols was the state trooper that handled the case.
Nichols said the collisions are clearly not the result of poor visibility, as both southbound and northbound drivers have a very clear line of sight of the intersection.
“It’s just people not paying attention,” he said.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.