SEDRO-WOOLLEY - Three people died and two young men suffered life-threatening injuries in a high-speed, head-on crash early Friday, May 23, on the North Cascades Highway in Skagit County.
An eastbound 1998 Audi A4 loaded with four people crashed head-on with a westbound red '06 Ford Fusion around 5:10 a.m. on Highway 20 at Minkler Road, between Sedro-Woolley and Lyman, according to the Washington State Patrol.
Both cars sustained massive front-end damage on impact, and the Audi flipped into a ditch on the north side of the road. Megan L. Brown, 21, of Bellingham sat in the front passenger seat. She and another woman, Nicole A. Washington, 23, of Sedro-Woolley, died at the scene. Troopers believe they both had seatbelts on.
The Ford driver, Frederick A. Brand, 65, of Concrete, died while being rushed to the nearest hospital in Sedro-Woolley, said Trooper Mark Francis. Brand had a seatbelt on, too.
Quinnton A. Baxter, a 22-year-old Burlington man in the Audi, was airlifted right away to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle; a second man, Alfredo Navarro III, 19, of Mount Vernon, was driven to Skagit Valley Hospital and later airlifted to Harborview. Baxter and Navarro remained in critical condition Friday evening, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Troopers continue to investigate who or what caused the crash. They suspect the Audi crossed the center lane. By the time law enforcement arrived, however, all of the occupants except Brown had been extracted from the Audi by firefighters. So troopers were working to confirm, for certain, who had been driving the car before giving out that information to the public.
Investigators also were looking into alcohol as a possible factor. An EMT reported smelling alcohol on one person in the Audi, and bottles and cans of beer were found in the car, according to the state patrol. But investigators were reluctant to call it a DUI crash until they could investigate more.
The state Department of Transportation shut down both directions of the road for about five hours.