Crime

Bellingham woman airlifted after hit-and-run crash near airport

A woman was airlifted to a Seattle hospital early Saturday, March 5, after a Dodge van crashed into a pole near Bellingham International Airport.

The driver ran from the scene but was booked into jail hours later, according to the Washington State Patrol.

A green 1998 Dodge Caravan crashed into a ditch while westbound in the 3800 block of Alderwood, near Marine Drive, around 9:25 p.m. Friday, according to state troopers.

The van struck a utility pole. A passenger, Valentina Maria Arnold, 27, of Bellingham, suffered broken bones and severe head injuries that required her to be airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. She had been wearing a seat belt.

The driver, meanwhile, ran east from the scene, said Sgt. Mark Francis of the state patrol. State troopers and Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies called in a police dog to search for him.

Around 2 a.m. the suspected driver, Wilfred Allen McLean, 24, was booked into jail to face charges of felony hit and run, vehicular assault, driving under the influence and circumventing an ignition interlock device.

The driver, Wilfred Allen McLean, has a previous conviction for reckless driving and attempting to elude a pursing police vehicle.

He suffered injuries, too, but off-hand Francis did not know how badly he was hurt. The van was a total loss.

Troopers are investigating what led up to the crash.

“Obviously,” Francis said, “that’s going to take some time.”

Court records show McLean, a resident of the Lummi Reservation, has been convicted of one felony driving offense in Washington state courts, for leading Bellingham police officers on a chase “at a high rate of speed” through the Puget neighborhood on a Saturday evening in October 2011.

As McLean fled from police that night, someone threw a bottle of Colt 45 malt liquor from the car, a gray Nissan Maxima. The driver and a passenger bailed out of the car in a driveway off Pacific Street, and McLean ran about 275 yards before a police officer caught him. Later at jail, McLean’s blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.20, according to charging papers.

He served a two-month sentence in jail after pleading guilty to reckless driving and attempting to elude a pursing police vehicle.

McLean has one other felony on his record for possession of heroin in November 2012.

On that day, he’d crashed his car on Rural Avenue. Officers arrested him on suspicion of driving under the influence, and at the police station he asked to use the restroom. According to charging papers, as he walked to the door he pulled a small baggie from his pocket and dropped it to the floor.

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