BELLINGHAM — A suspected drunken driver caused a head-on crash on Guide Meridian that killed him and another young man early Tuesday, Dec. 31, according to the Washington State Patrol.
Several witnesses called 911 around 12:15 a.m. to report a green Chevrolet Tahoe speeding northbound on Guide Meridian near Bellingham city limits. The Tahoe was passing cars on the right and left, said Trooper Keith Leary.
Moments later the Tahoe driven by Travis Lee Holst, 23, crossed the center lane near Smith Road. His 2003 Chevy crashed into a southbound silver 1997 Honda Civic driven by Brox Mitchell Browning, 20, of Lynden.
Browning died at the scene. He had a seatbelt on.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
An ambulance rushed Holst, a Ferndale resident, to St. Joseph hospital, but he did not survive through the morning.
Holst and his vehicle smelled of alcohol, Leary said. Troopers believe he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
Browning and Holst were the only people in their cars. The front ends of both cars were demolished. Only the trunk area of the Honda remained intact after the crash.
Roads were blocked for about four hours, until a street sweeper could clear the last of the wreckage from the road.Holst had a pending DUI case in Ferndale Municipal Court.
But he had a valid driver’s license and did not need an ignition interlock — a device that tests blood alcohol before allowing him to drive — in his car. Records show he recently paid off a $144 speeding ticket he got in June.
His father, Mark Holst, serves as a Whatcom County Sheriff’s sergeant in charge of the jail alternatives program.
Travis Holst, who worked for a local construction equipment manufacturer, graduated from Ferndale High in 2009.
Browning graduated in 2012 from Lynden High School. He was attending Whatcom Community College.
Browning’s friends posted tributes to him on Twitter. So did his brother Blake Browning, who wrote: “Appreciate life, relationships, and happiness every second you breathin’ / You never know when that (stuff) can be taken / RIP bro, love u always.”
Other tributes on Twitter:
Rippan Brar, @RippanB: “I’m glad I got to spend some time with an amazing person like Brox.”
Katie Jo Lindstrom, @katiejoooo: “You had such a good heart and always cared for your friends. You’re really going to be missed Brox. Rest in peace.”
Jafar Mamoody, @JafarJamesM: “That’s why you should thank God every morning/night for letting you see another day on this earth, because another day is never promised.”Kailey Olson, @kaileymarieee: “Too young. RIP to one of the nicest guys. Hug your loved ones extra tight today. We love you Brox.”
Tanya Thalen, @tanyathalen1351: “On my way to town I saw an accident. All I could think of was Brox. When I blinked, all I could see were pictures of his wreck. /: RIP Brox.”
Amy VanWingerden, @amy_lynnvw: “I don’t want this love to fade out for the Brownings. Pray constantly and continue to comfort. Hardest thing anyone would have to go through.”
Alexa Vander Meulen, @alexaaakae: “Prayers to the Browning family as they mourn the loss of Brox! Taken wayyyy (too) young. STOP DRINKING AND DRIVING!!”
Taryn Vis, @littletvis: “You were too young Broxxy. You were supposed to walk me down the aisle if my dad couldn’t. This is not right.”