An Oak Harbor man died in a high-speed collision in Freeland this week.
State police identified him as Richard B. Clark of Oak Harbor. He was 24.
According to the Washington State Patrol, the accident happened shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday on Highway 525 just past the intersection at Cameron Road. Clark was southbound on the state route traveling at a high rate of speed in a 1994 Acura Integra. He attempted to pass another southbound vehicle, a 1997 Toyota 4Runner driven by Stephen Judd of Clinton, on the right shoulder and the two cars collided. Both vehicles came to rest in heavy brush along the south side of the highway.
Clark’s vehicle rolled and his injuries were severe.
“(He) was not wearing his seat belt and was ejected,” said Trooper Dave Martin of the Washington State Patrol.
Clark was transported by ambulance to a nearby field where he was waiting to be airlifted to an off-island hospital when he died of his injuries. His next of kin were notified by the Island County coroner, according to the press memo.
Judd, 65, was not injured in the crash.
State troopers at the scene said Clark’s vehicle was reported by two separate motorists for “erratic” driving at locations along the highway between Oak Harbor and the crash site. Police were on the look out for the vehicle and it was spotted by an Island County Sheriff’s deputy just north of Freeland. The officer attempted to give pursuit but the car was reportedly traveling so fast that he quickly lost sight of Clark.
“By the time he turned around, the guy was gone,” said Sgt. Mark Francis of the state patrol.
The deputy didn’t see the vehicle again until he reached the top of the hill by Bush Point Road which was just in time to watch the crash unfold in the distance, said Francis.
The accident occurred within a stone’s throw of South Whidbey Fire/EMS’s headquarters on Cameron Road.
“We actually heard it,” Deputy Chief Jason Laughren said.
Medical personnel arrived on scene and found Clark lying near the road about 60 feet away from his vehicle. He was treated in an ambulance and then transported to the airlift site to await the helicopter.
The press memo from the state patrol cited the official cause as “bad pass and speed.” Francis said it’s unknown just how fast Clark was going at the time of the crash but he said the deputy he passed north of Freeland estimated the car was traveling at speeds in the “triple digits.”
It’s also unknown whether alcohol or drugs were factors in the accident. Francis said that will be determined by the Island County coroner.
Several motorists commented on a South Whidbey Record story online and on other social media websites that they’d seen the vehicle between Oak Harbor and Freeland and that they were nearly or in some cases actually forced off the road. Others speculated about the cause of another two-car collision that occurred near Libbey Road just north of Coupeville, wondering if the two were connected. Francis said he doesn’t believe they are linked as both accidents happened at roughly the same time.
A large section of the highway in Freeland near Cameron Road was closed for several hours while police investigated the crash.