17-year-old Bellingham High student killed in hit-and-run incident on I-5 Tuesday

A 17-year-old Bellingham High junior was killed when he was struck early Tuesday in a hit-and-run incident along southbound Interstate 5 near the Meridian Street exit.

Butch J. Mullins was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a Washington State Patrol news release on the incident.

According to the release, Mullins was walking in the right lane of the freeway at approximately 12:26 a.m. when he was struck by the vehicle. The vehicle did not stop after hitting the boy.

The incident is still under investigation.

In a second release, Trooper Heather Axtman said the State Patrol is seeking witnesses that may have seen Mullins on the freeway or “possibly know of any vehicles with unexplainable damage,” urging them to call or email Detective Kevin Nelson at 360-654-1143 or

Axtman told The Bellingham Herald Wednesday that the State Patrol still does not know the make of the car but is still hopeful that information will be available soon.

In a letter to Bellingham High families, principal Linda Miller confirmed that Mullins was a student at the school and said that students and staff at the school were notified of his death during first period Tuesday.

“Butch made a positive and lasting impression on our Bellingham family, and he will be greatly missed by all,” Miller wrote. “His death is not only impacting students and staff, but he has a sister who attends Bellingham and his mom is a coach. Our thoughts and condolences are with the Mullins family and friends.”

Miller said a Bellingham Public School support team was already at the school and will stay as long as students and staff need them.

“We encourage students and staff to look out for each other and take care of one another. If you or your child need help, please do not hesitate to ask,” Miller said in the letter.

Support officers were called to care for Mullins’ family, Support Officer Community Crisis Care Executive Director Kendra Cristelli told The Bellingham Herald.

Merritt Scott started a page to raise funds to help the family pay for funeral expenses, and in just 14 hours it far surpassed its goal of $9,950, generating $15,302 from 271 donors and dozens of comments of support for the family and memories of Mullins.

If your child needs help

Miller offered a list of resources available on the school district website.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.