Clues sought in fatal Highway 99 crash

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

Updated: November 27, 2012, 9:32 PM

 
photoOne person was killed in a vehicle accident Tuesday afternoon near the intersection of Highway 99 and Northeast 72nd Street in Hazel Dell.

(/The Columbian)

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Fatal accident

Details of a fatal single-car accident in Hazel Dell were unclear Tuesday night as county investigators tried to map out exactly what happened.

What’s known is a woman died and a man was critically injured Tuesday afternoon when a speeding Mazda sedan struck a steel pole at Highway 99 and Northeast 72nd Street in Hazel Dell.

At 2:52 p.m., a dark gray Mazda heading south on Highway 99 swerved across the street at a high rate of speed and wrapped around a pole in the parking lot of My Daddy’s Automotive at 7205 N.E. Highway 99, said Sgt. Dennis Pritchard with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. The speed limit there is 35 mph.

Jeff Pierson, owner of the automotive shop, saw the car cross into northbound traffic lanes and skid sideways. He thought it was going to crash through his store front window before the car hit a pole in his parking lot.

It’s unclear exactly what happened, said Sgt. Fred Neiman, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. The man was either thrown from the car or hit by the car and landed across 72nd Street in the parking lot of Collins Plaza.

The woman, who Pierson said appeared to be in her late 20s, was lying on the asphalt next to the car when deputies arrived. She was pronounced dead at the scene, Neiman said. Her name was not released.

Witness accounts varied.

Initially, deputies thought the woman was a pedestrian who was struck by the car, Neiman said. As neither person was in the car when deputies arrived, it was unclear who was driving the car, or if one was a passenger or a pedestrian.

The man was transported by ambulance to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center with critical injuries. Neither the man or the woman’s name was released.

Pritchard said the car created “critical speed scuffs” as it crossed Highway 99. “It doesn’t look like there was any braking,” he said. “It clearly involved excessive speed.”

Natalie Cline, 21, a waitress at Steakburger across the street said she saw the car wrap around the pole and glass spray across the street.

Traffic was blocked from Northeast 68th Street to the Fred Meyer entrance on Highway 99 south of 78th Street. Traffic detectives with the sheriff’s office mapped the scene and took aerial photos of the accident from a fire truck’s ladder.