WSP calls trooper's death 'a tragic accident'

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 18, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 18 at 11:42 PM

EVERETT -- The driver involved in a May 31st traffic accident that killed a Washington State Patrol trooper will not be cited, according to investigators.  Kurt Crossman, the truck driver, told KING 5 the news was a relief, but, "it's still a tragic situation."

In a report released Monday, the Washington State Patrol called the collision that resulted in Trooper Sean O'Connell's death last May "a tragic accident."

He died May 31, 2013 after colliding with Crossman's box truck on a detour route put in place after the partial I-5 bridge collapse in Skagit County.

According to the report, a combination of circumstances led to the trooper's death.

"There was no one single cause for the this tragedy," said Capt. Charles LeBlanc, commander of WSP's Criminal Investigation Division. " There was a combination of circumstances that led to a horrific end."

WSP said O'Connell was driving up the shoulder outside the fog line when the crash occurred. As O'Connell and the box truck reached the intersection, the truck turned right and was struck by the trooper's motorcycle.

WSP said O'Connell, 38, was on duty when the collision occurred at the intersection of Fir Island Road and Greenfield Road around 5:45 p.m.

The box truck driver did not see the motorcycle prior to initiating his turn and speed was not a factor in the crash.

"I thought the lift gate came off my truck," Crossman said, "I had no hint of what it could have been.  I was confused, fearful and scared."

LeBlanc said O'Connell was not using his lights and siren at the time of the accident, per agency training, as lights and sirens often cause drivers to suddenly pull off to the right.

A guard rail cut off O'Connell so he was unable to avoid the truck. Additionally, he fell under the truck after hitting it.

The driver of the box truck was not impaired and has fully cooperated with the investigation. State Patrol didn't issue any citations for the crash.

Trooper O'Connell was transported to Skagit Valley Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

He was a 16-year veteran and a member of WSP Detachment 12 out of Marysville, a motorcycle patrol unit. It's a small unit, with just seven members while O'Connell was alive.

Trooper O'Connell is the 28th WSP Trooper killed in the line of duty.

In July, the state transportation commission approved naming the new Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River after O'Connell.

The bridge will be named the Trooper Sean M. O'Connell Jr. Memorial Bridge. The request was made by state senator Kevin Ranker and representatives Jeff Morris and Kristine Lytton.

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