LONG BEACH — Two adults and four children were injured after a rollover collision on the beach a mile south of the Cranberry Road beach approach in Long Beach on March 20. One of the injured is clinging to life after sustaining life-threatening injuries and being airlifted to a Portland hospital.
The incident occurred at about 12:48 p.m., according to the Washington State Patrol, which is investigating the collision since Washington beaches are considered state highways under their authority. The first unit on scene was a Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife officer, with a Washington State Parks ranger assisting before WSP arrived.
Witnesses reported that the vehicle, identified as a 2000 GMC Yukon, was traveling along the beach at a “high rate of speed,” performing what are called “cookies or donuts.” The vehicle then fishtailed in the surf, lost control, rolled over up to three times, and came to a rest on its wheels at the edge of the waterline.
The driver, Ted E. Fowler, 46, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, sustained life-threatening injuries and was airlifted from Ocean Beach Hospital (OBH) to a Portland-area hospital, where he remains in critical condition. Sara R. Doty, 36, of Idaho Falls, the only adult passenger, sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to OBH; she was expected to be treated and released. (A later WSP press memo said all vehicle occupants are currently from Vancouver.)
One child only identified as an 8-year-old male sustained significant injuries. He was initially transported to OBH and was taken by ground ambulance to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland for emergency surgery to his left arm. The other three children, ages 2, 3 and 6, sustained minor injuries.
“At least one of the occupants was ejected when the vehicle rolled over, but we haven’t been able to confirm which occupant it was,” WSP Sgt. Bradford Moon said. “At least one of the witnesses that contacted Trooper Kelly Swanson stated that they were driving in a reckless or negligent manner further up the beach doing similar things.”
WSP’s press memo stated that Fowler was not wearing a seat belt, while everyone else in the vehicle was properly restrained.
“We didn’t have any witnesses that said ‘at that time this is what they were doing,’ but that driving is certainly consistent with the circling and fishtailing, which is what caused it to the trip and roll over,” Moon said.
WSP formally stated the cause of the wreck was “exceeding a reasonable safe speed and fishtailing or circling on the beach.” It’s unclear if any charges are going to be filed against Fowler for the collision.