Detectives are seeking witnesses of a Friday, Dec. 18, freeway crash near Custer that left one woman dead and a Washington State Patrol trooper with severe head trauma.
Sandra Lee Clifford, 72, of Blaine, crashed a bronze ’03 Buick LeSabre into the rear of a parked Washington State Patrol car on the left shoulder of northbound Interstate 5.
She died at the scene.
The trooper, Benjamin C. Ellis, of Bellingham, had been wrapping up an investigation of a non-injury rollover crash at the time, around 4:28 p.m. He was sitting in the driver’s seat with the car’s emergency flashers on, near milepost 268, south of Birch Bay-Lynden Road, according to the state patrol.
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Ellis, a trooper since September 2014, suffered a head injury when the Buick hit his 2013 Chevrolet Caprice. He had a concussion, said Trooper Heather Axtman. He was released from the hospital hours later, around midnight. There’s no timetable for when Ellis could return to duty, Axtman said.
Troopers hope to speak with anyone who noticed anything before the crash or witnessed the crash itself. So far, they have been unable to determine the cause, Axtman said.
Contact Detective Sgt. Jerry Cooper at 425-508-0602, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have information that could help piece together what happened.