Copalis Beach woman dies in rollover on SR-109

A local woman died Friday morning, July 8, in a single-vehicle crash on State Route 109 in Hoquiam.

A black Honda CRV driven by Darolyn L. Theel, 48, of Copalis Beach, was found on its roof at about 9:42 a.m., Friday — just after the time of the collision, according to Katherine Weatherwax, public information officer for Washington State Patrol.

The accident happened at milepost 5 on SR-109, which is about 3.5 miles past the SR-109 spur — the split between Washington State Route 109 and U.S. 101 North.

Despite the best efforts of a good Samaritan, the driver died at the scene, according to a Washington State Patrol memo.

“It sounds like it was a one-car rollover,” Weatherwax said. “One female passenger (Theel) got ejected. A passerby was doing CPR on her.”

Hoquiam Fire Department Captain Larissa Rohr provided some more information about when she arrived on-scene with HFD’s Medic One and Fire Engine 1.

“We arrived to find a bystander doing CPR in the middle of the highway on the patient,” Rohr said. “Then our crews rendered aid to the patient, but despite our best efforts, the patient didn’t make it.”

Rohr highlighted the importance of the good Samaritan’s lifesaving efforts.

“It was quick action by the bystander, who gave the patient a fighting chance for survival, potentially,” Rohr said.

According to WSP Trooper Cody Robinson, who responded to the scene along with several other state troopers, Hoquiam Police Department personnel, and Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office deputies, the cause was under investigation. Hoquiam Fire Department personnel also responded to the scene.

State Route 109 was closed — except for local residents living on the streets that intersect with the state route — for about four hours after the crash.

According to Weatherwax, the crash was caused by the driver, but it is unknown if the driver suffered a medical emergency or if there were drugs or alcohol involved.

“It’s hard to say if she was under the influence (of drugs and or alcohol) until we get the autopsy back,” Weatherwax said.

But, what was clear is that the use of a seat belt could have helped. The driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt.

The road conditions on that hilly and curvy portion of SR-109 appeared ideal Friday morning when The Daily World was on-site, because it was partly cloudy with a light breeze and the road was dry. Normally with a crash in those conditions speed could be a factor.

It is believed the driver, instead of “going with” the highway road, which is single-lane in either direction, she instead drove straight before the crash, Weatherwax added.

Rohr mentioned this isn’t an isolated incident on that stretch of road between milepost 3 — just outside Hoquiam city limits and milepost 5, where the crash happened.

“It’s very dangerous,” Rohr said. “There have been multiple fatality accidents and or rollovers. People have thankfully walked away because they were wearing seat belts, or they were in newer cars with better safety features. There have been significant wrecks throughout the year in that section of roadway.”

In addition to the crash details, Weatherwax provided a couple of tips for drivers around that area:

“Obviously wear your seat belt,” she said. “I believe that was a big factor. Had she been wearing her seat belt, it might have saved her life. It was a nice day, and she was possibly on her phone, so be off your cellphone. And definitely slow down. The speed limits are there for a reason.”

Rohr then highlighted the importance for people to receive first aid training, given the good Samaritan’s effort to save the driver’s life.

“I suggest anyone and everyone to take a CPR, (or) first aid class in the event something like this happens in front of you, so they feel comfortable enough to step up and assist someone,” he said.