A Maple Falls-area man crossed the center line of Mount Baker Highway, hitting two cars and causing a horrific Mother’s Day wreck that killed a father and his infant daughter near Mosquito Lake Road, authorities said Sunday.
“It was a tough, tragic situation,” said Chief Jerry DeBruin of Whatcom County Fire District 14, which serves the rural communities of Welcome, Kendall and Sumas. He said the baby and her father died at the scene.
Washington State Patrol Sgt. Mark Francis said Larry Fitzgerald, 71, was eastbound on Mount Baker Highway about 10:30 a.m. Sunday in a Chevrolet Suburban. He crossed the centerline and drove into the path of a westbound Toyota Yaris driven by Pamela Moyer, 24, of Ferndale, side-swiping that car and causing it to roll, then hitting head-on a Subaru Legacy wagon that was right behind the Yaris. The woman driving the Yaris was the wife of Phillip Moyer, 25, the man driving the Legacy and the baby girl was their child, Francis said. The girl was later identified as Penelope Moyer, who was 5 months old.
Francis said Fitzgerald was from the Maple Falls area.
Francis said the baby girl was properly belted in a rear-facing seat. Francis was unsure if the other drivers were wearing seat belts.
Francis said Fitzgerald was critically injured and likely would be flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The mother’s injuries weren’t considered life-threatening, DeBruin said.
Mount Baker Highway was closed between Highway 9 and Mosquito Lake Road as traffic backed up, according to a tweet from the state Department of Transportation. State patrol said the road opened about 3:45 p.m. Sunday.
Frank Pitsch of Deming said he was having a Mother’s Day brunch at Rifugio’s Country Italian Cuisine with his mother, brothers and other family members when the young mother’s car rolled onto its top outside the restaurant.
“People came right out from all the houses (nearby) and from the restaurant and helped,” Pitsch said, adding the woman was dangling upside-down in her car, held by her seat belt. He said bystanders unbuckled the woman and wrapped her in a blanket on the side of the road, comforting her and checking for injuries, as others rushed to the other two vehicles.
“Everyone was doing the best they could in bad circumstances,” Pitsch said. Restaurant staff, patrons and neighbors all helped until police and firefighters arrived.
Pitsch said bystanders got the door of the Suburban open with a pry bar, but the driver was trapped. Firefighters had to cut him free, DeBruin said.
DeBruin said the father was dead when firefighters arrived. Fire crews attempted to revive the baby girl with CPR, but she had suffered mortal injuries, DeBruin said.