News

Wrecks still on Monkey Hill’s back

A Washington State Patrol trooper speaks with North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Marv Koorn at the scene of a three-car collision at Monkey Hill Road and Highway 20 Thursday. Three people were injured. - Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times
A Washington State Patrol trooper speaks with North Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Marv Koorn at the scene of a three-car collision at Monkey Hill Road and Highway 20 Thursday. Three people were injured.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

Three people went to the hospital Thursday for injuries they suffered in a car accident on North Whidbey.

According to Marv Koorn, fire chief of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, the three-car collision occurred at about 1:30 p.m. at the intersection of Monkey Hill Road and Highway 20.

Koorn said two people in a Honda Civic were waiting to turn left onto Monkey Hill Road from the highway when they were rear-ended by the sole occupant of a northbound Honda Accord.

The first vehicle was hit hard enough that it was pushed into the oncoming lane of traffic where it was subsequently struck by another car, a Volvo S40, that was heading south.

Two people were in that vehicle.

The force of the second collision turned the Civic around, and it smashed through a stop sign before rolling down a small hill into a wooded area about 20 feet from the roadway.

Koorn said the drivers of the Civic and Accord were transported to Island Hospital in Anacortes and the man and woman in the Volvo went to Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville, though only one of them was hurt.

Koorn does not believe any of the injuries were life threatening, however, he said they were lucky considering the damage to the vehicles and speeds involved.

“The potential was there for it to be really bad,” Koorn said. “Fortunately their injuries appear to be minor.”

Monkey Hill Road resident Edward Benedict, the passenger of the Civic, said he and his daughter, Colleen Wolf, were driving home from a trip to Oak Harbor when they were hit.

He said it’s a particularly bad intersection due to the lack of left turn lanes. In fact, after more than 30 years of living in the area, he said he’s been expecting to be involved in an accident there for some time.

“I knew it would happen eventually,” he said.

Other Monkey Hill Road residents that were at the scene of the accident voiced similar complaints about the intersection.

“People are killed here all the time,” Donna Higgins said. “If we had left turn lanes, that would help.”

According to collision data provided by the state Department of Transportation, 2006 saw a spike of 27 accidents. An extensive safety project was completed that year, resulting in the creation of right-turn lanes, widened shoulders and the removal of dangerous objects, such as trees and utility poles.

“We believe these highway improvements have made a change for the better along the highway,” agency spokesman Dustin Terpening said in an email to the Whidbey News-Times.

Since the improvements, the area has seen a 40 percent reduction in collisions. In 2007 and 2008, there were 16 collisions each year, and in 2009, nine collisions. The past three years have resulted in just one collision a year.

“This is a substantial improvement,” Terpening wrote.

The Washington State Patrol is investigating the cause of the accident.

 

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