Crime

Man dies days after crashing into bay off Lummi Shore

A Chevy Blazer drove off Lummi Shore Road and plunged into the water near Portage Point on Friday afternoon, Nov. 6, 2015. The driver was taken to the hospital but later died.
A Chevy Blazer drove off Lummi Shore Road and plunged into the water near Portage Point on Friday afternoon, Nov. 6, 2015. The driver was taken to the hospital but later died. The Bellingham Herald

A resident of the Lummi Reservation died this weekend after his SUV crashed into the water off Lummi Shore Road.

Passersby pulled Dale A. Schmidt, 63, from the driver’s seat of a navy blue Chevy Blazer that crashed over a rocky seawall and into chilly Bellingham Bay around 1:55 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6.

A man performed CPR for minutes until tribal police reached the scene and took over chest compressions. Schmidt was breathing when medical aid workers loaded him into an ambulance, according to the Washington State Patrol.

Schmidt died two days later, however, at a hospital.

His home was about a quarter-mile south of the crash scene. Schmidt was driving north on a slightly bending stretch of Lummi Shore when the ’86 Chevy crashed over the short seawall, onto a strip of rocky beach, and came to a rest 20 yards offshore in the bay.

Some neighbors, like Kim Walker, did not hear the crash. Instead she heard shouting on the beach moments later.

“We were all just in this sort of stunned state,” Walker said. “It was like (the Chevy) had been dropped out of the sky.”

Schmidt suffered a head injury and was found face down in the water in the submerged SUV. Schmidt appeared to be “gone,” Walker said. Passersby tried nonetheless to revive him, and eventually they felt a pulse.

Those efforts, Walker said, were “a beautiful example of human concern and kindness that they showed to this total stranger.”

According to an online resume, Schmidt worked for years as a medical records specialist. He also taught guitar, banjo and mandolin at the Mojo School of Music.

As of Monday the cause of the crash remained under investigation, said Trooper Mark Francis. An autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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