Update: Car crash leads to power outage in West Seattle

(LATEST TOPLINES, 4:32 PM: City Light’s system-status page and WSB commenters indicate just about everyone has their power back, after a 2,000+-home/business outage caused by a car smashing into a pole at 47th/Charlestown at 5:30 this morning.)

(7:06 am – replaced original cameraphone photo with video)
ORIGINAL 5:41 AM REPORT: Getting a few outage reports – not surprising since our power here in Upper Fauntleroy flickered twice a few minutes ago, and flickers in one place often portend an outage elsewhere. Via Facebook, Kate says “a transformer blew” near her home at 46th/Charlestown. And Jennifer says her power came back fast but she’s seeing folks out to the south of her area (which is 4800 block Fauntleroy). Plus, Lisa says power’s out around Jefferson Square. This is NOT on the Seattle City Light “system status” page yet. More to come.

5:49 AM UPDATE: New information – This is because of a crash. Power lines are down because of a car crash at Charlestown and 47th. Listening to scanner traffic now. “Two critical patients” according to scanner, and they are not yet out of the vehicle.

5:59 AM UPDATE: The two patients are now out of the vehicle and being taken to Harborview. “High-speed car vs telephone pole” crash with the victims described as a man and woman, both 25, according to the scanner.

6:16 AM UPDATE: We just got to the scene. It’s at the bottom of the mega-steep hill on Charlestown, west of 46th (here’s a map; the road is closed at the top). As for the power – most of the businesses and streetlights on the west side of The Junction between Edmunds and Oregon are out (with a few exceptions), plus the California/Alaska lights. Then the power’s back north of there. So, a spotty outage. City Light arrived at the scene here just ahead of us. The car is badly mangled – police say it “was” a Buick.

7:06 AM UPDATE: Came back to HQ to add video – the lighting at the scene is not optimal; we will go back once the sun’s up. No word on the victims’ conditions. Seattle City Light is working on the power lines at the scene; its “outage tracker” says more than 2,000 homes/businesses have lost power – our comments and e-mail/notes suggest it’s a hopscotch pattern, various spots from North Admiral south to Fairmount Springs. (You can see that on the outage tracker, too.)

7:31 AM UPDATE: City Light has finally published its own update, though it does not mention the crash, or the non-contingent nature of the outage zones. It does mention “additional momentary outages will be required as the problem is repaired.”

8:03 AM UPDATE: California/Alaska stoplight in The Junction is still out. And City Light now says some may not get their power back for “six to eight hours.” The crash scene will be closed a while, since the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad – which is called to major scenes – is at work there:

The pole hit by the car is still at a sharp angle. City Light says some may be without power for up to 6 to 8 more hours.

8:47 AM UPDATE: That’s the aforementioned pole. We’ve received calls, comments, and notes in the past 10 minutes or so indicating some have gotten their power back – The Junction, for example – while, as SCL warned, some have lost it (North Admiral). We saw SCL trucks in The Junction while passing through en route back from revisiting the scene, and a Facebook commenter reports seeing crews there too. We also have a report of a Comcast outage, though we don’t know whether it’s related.

11:40 AM UPDATE: Police have published an item about the crash on SPDBlotter, describing both victims as having “life-threatening injuries,” and saying their Buick sedan was heading westbound down the steep hill just before it hit the pole. About 100 homes/businesses are still without power, according to City Light’s “outage tracker“; their Power Lines site’s latest update says that’s needed while the pole – cut off at the base, per police – is replaced.

4:33 PM UPDATE: Looks like just about everyone’s back on, judging by both comments and the City Light system-status page. We were at 47th/Charlestown about an hour ago and watched crews in the final stages of replacing the pole taken out by this morning’s crash.

113 Replies to "Update: Car crash leads to power outage in West Seattle"

  • MindDriver January 9, 2011 (5:48 am)

    Yep, out here at 5000 block of Fauntleroy.

  • nbp January 9, 2011 (5:48 am)

    Two fire trucks in the area of 46th and Charlestown now.

  • Ross January 9, 2011 (5:52 am)

    Lots of fire trucks on 48th at Charlestown, they seem to be outside the apartment building on the corner. FD ambulance just arrived..

  • Paula Tortorice January 9, 2011 (5:52 am)

    Just returned from 46th and Charlestown (I live between 44/45th) and several police and fire vehicles are on the scene. I heard a car fly past my house and then a loud crash. Looks like a pole is down, power is out on at least that block. Fire was using the jaws of life, and then someone yelled “tape it off” and the yellow police tape was up in seconds. Three more police vehicles and an aid car have driven by as I write this.

  • Mae January 9, 2011 (5:58 am)

    Our power is out on 47th north of Admiral, thanks for the update on why. Our power never goes out. I hope everyone is ok.

  • Admiral January 9, 2011 (6:02 am)

    My husband has sleep apnea so I knew right away the power was out when the cpac stopped working! I don’t remember our power ever going out and it is unfortunate a horrible car accident is the cause.

  • Jordon January 9, 2011 (6:06 am)

    Power’s out at 47th and Edmunds but only on the west side of 47th and noth of Edmunds.

  • Rca January 9, 2011 (6:09 am)

    Power out 49th and Edmonds area. East side of street. West side if street bright lights. Called ack. No answers when switched to emergency after hours. Cut off

  • kee January 9, 2011 (6:12 am)

    just drove by, hope they are okay. verrrrrry bad accident.

  • Alison January 9, 2011 (6:12 am)

    We are east of Delridge and had power flicker and a strong strange sound. Woke up my poor husband because I thought it was something in our home. Thank you so much WSB! I hope everyone will be ok. And I can stop checking our furnace and all other internal sources for the cause.

  • MindDrive January 9, 2011 (6:13 am)

    A little help please! We are still out on the West side of Fauntleroy, 5000 block. Seattle City Light says we are not in the boundaries of the outage, but will not take our call to report this outage. Any suggestions?

  • J January 9, 2011 (6:14 am)

    We live at 48th and spokane. We were woken up by the sound of the crash and the siren from the firetruck. Our power went out but came back after a few seconds. Our cable tv/internet is still out but all the houses on our block seem to have their power back.

  • Paula Tortorice January 9, 2011 (6:18 am)

    Just watched two aid cars drive east past my house, both were dark inside and no flashing lights. Also watched a City Light truck head down the hill toward the scene. I hope those young people are going to be okay.

  • Kim January 9, 2011 (6:19 am)

    We are out at 44th and Walker. Neighbors across alley are out, but across street have power. Looks very hit and miss. Kendall said he heard a transformer blow.

  • Glenda January 9, 2011 (6:19 am)

    Was just driving back from the airport and noticed all the lights were out on one side of the street of the Junction which seemed like a very odd outage. As I got closer to home, saw the huge response to this scene – it looked bad. I assume this had something to do with that outtage. Wishing the two in the car the best.

    • WSB January 9, 2011 (6:26 am)

      Yes, the outage is clearly very spotty – and it showed on the CIty Light map as multiple outages. (I’ll be checking with SCL about all that on Monday.) Meantime, as I noted in the story, SCL is at the scene here – no word yet how long it’ll take before they can restore power. – TR

  • Sue January 9, 2011 (6:28 am)

    What Minddrive means by them not taking our report is that it said we need” agent assistance” but that they are closed and can’t help us. Very frustratng.
    Sorry to hear of those injured and hope they’re ok.

  • Citizen Sane January 9, 2011 (6:28 am)

    This is really tragic. I have a friend who lives on Charleston just west of that hill, and he says meatheads speed on that road all the time. I would love to show photos of this crash to people who squawk every time one suggests that maybe we should have photo-radar to catch and discourage speeding on our residential streets.

    • WSB January 9, 2011 (6:32 am)

      Citizen Sane – we’ll have pix at some point here, too dark for decent cameraphone (we are trying both types) but we do have some video we’ll upload shortly. If they call out the major investigation squad, the wreckage might still be here by daybreak (a good hour and a half away). The pole taken out by the car *had* the streetlight on it ….

  • Dan January 9, 2011 (6:31 am)

    Power out on east side of 35 th ave SW between Dawson and Hudson, too. Can’t seem to report it to SCL either.

  • ann January 9, 2011 (6:40 am)

    I’ve lived around there for 7 years and have always been surprised this doesn’t happen more often. Hope they’re OK.

  • Joe January 9, 2011 (6:44 am)

    I hope someone takes good pictures: I live on the corner of Charlestown & 46th; the city refuses to put any sort of speed-control measure at the top of the hill. I was told that was because Charlestown is classified as an arterial (yet they have a stop sign at the bottom of the hill). Maybe some photo evidence of how dangerous that intersection is will help change their minds. Personally, I’m surprised we don’t have more accidents.

  • Courtland January 9, 2011 (6:49 am)

    It’s freezing… I want my power back!

    Stop drinking and driving.

    Click it or ticket.

  • Jenny January 9, 2011 (6:55 am)

    Power is out on 41st between Edmunds and Dawson. I have tried a few times to call the Seattle Utilities Power Outage line but can’t get through to report.

  • Monsterbabymama January 9, 2011 (7:44 am)

    Thank you WSB for your info and others who have added info! Was wondering what the heck happened when I heard the sound of a car sliding then a loud pop just before the power went out. I thought something exploded inside my house! It was loud enough that we heard it near corner of 46th and Spokane!

  • S January 9, 2011 (7:52 am)

    Lost our power after the accident. It is almost 8am and still no power. We live on 48th near Oregon.
    Hoping the people in the accident are ok.
    Thank you west seattle blog for your quick reporting.

  • K January 9, 2011 (8:03 am)

    we’re not too far away at 48th & Hinds. Never lost power, but Comcast is out. Both tv and Internet.

  • Cherie January 9, 2011 (8:11 am)

    Power still out at 47th & admiral. Brrr. I believe this is the second outage for us in the six months we’ve lived here.

  • redblack January 9, 2011 (8:23 am)

    weird. some of you are reporting outages from the east and west of me, along fauntleroy and 35th ave in the same block range. but i have power and cable.
    power was out for like 20 seconds at 5:30 a.m., not even long enough to make half of our digital clocks reset.

  • Monosyllabic Girl January 9, 2011 (8:28 am)

    Power out at around 6 this morning, came back on, then went out again at 825!

  • Debbie January 9, 2011 (8:31 am)

    So now our power went out…8:28. Is it related? 5200 block of Fauntleroy.. Pops back on now.

  • Ben January 9, 2011 (8:33 am)

    Power just came back here at 48th & Edmunds after being out all morning.

  • Courtland January 9, 2011 (8:33 am)

    Power just came back on at my place. 27 California ave sw. Going to Freshys for coffee.

    • WSB January 9, 2011 (8:36 am)

      a) City Light did say, as noted at one point in our story, there might be some additional outages as they work to restore everyone. (It is a crazy domino effect.) (b) Thanks for the power updates – we also got a call from Sam at Fleurt in The Junction, California/Oregon, who says her power just came back on too.

  • Junctionite January 9, 2011 (8:36 am)

    Power just went out for less than five minutes a block south of Jefferson Square, it is back on now.

  • Scott January 9, 2011 (8:36 am)

    We are half a block from the scene of the accident on the west side of 48th. Did not lose power, cable or Internet. Had just gotten up when the crash happened. Sounded as though it was coming through my living room. Very bad wreck indeed.

  • K January 9, 2011 (8:36 am)

    Comcast is now reporting an outage in the area. Working to restore.

  • Sue January 9, 2011 (8:38 am)

    Alki cafe has power and warm food and it’s still empty. :)

  • JasonG January 9, 2011 (8:42 am)

    40th & Hinds, clocks blinking 3:10 — must have gone out just briefly ’round the time of the crash.

  • bebecat January 9, 2011 (8:45 am)

    Out of the dark……So that was the problem….Thank You WSB

  • s January 9, 2011 (8:46 am)

    our power is on. we are at 48th and oregon at 8:40am. any update on the people in the car accident?

    • WSB January 9, 2011 (8:53 am)

      S – we probably won’t get that until and unless SPD writes up a blotter story on it. I heard another scanner fragment later but am not 100 percent sure it was related to this, much as it sounded likely, so can’t assume. The fact the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is there underscores the fact they were seriously injured – they don’t usually launch a major investigation unless there’s life-threatening injuries or a fatality. The medic-unit traffic I quoted early on indicated that both were unconscious when rescuers first reached the car.

  • Vicki Jackson January 9, 2011 (8:48 am)

    THanks for your quick responses. We sure appreciate you!

  • Cherie January 9, 2011 (9:00 am)

    Power is back on at 47th & Admiral.

  • AJ January 9, 2011 (9:19 am)

    Lost power for 3 hours. The cause of the outage is unfortunate. Just last week I saw a car recklessly speeding on this section of Charleston, going about 50 mph.

  • ScottA January 9, 2011 (9:39 am)

    thanks for getting the daylight photos WSB. Since the front of the car isn’t bashed in can someone provide a sense of what face of the car did hit the pole? The pole is so drastically moved that it must have been extreme impact.

  • kg January 9, 2011 (9:40 am)

    Woke up to kids jumping on the bed screaming and giggling in joy, begging to wear their emergency backpacks since there was no power.

  • jb January 9, 2011 (9:44 am)

    Live at 48th & Spokane and power was on this morning, but went out again about 20 minutes ago. Service truck going back and forth through alley. That crash was horrible and I hope those people are ok.

  • Beth January 9, 2011 (9:46 am)

    Power came back on at 8:30 around 49th and Hinds and went out again about 9.

  • mike January 9, 2011 (10:06 am)

    Power goes on and off since 8am. Not sure what utilities is doing, but its worse than before 8am.

  • neighbor lady January 9, 2011 (10:54 am)

    anyone else having landline phone problems? sound of the accident and/or transformer blowing woke us up here near the delridge library. phone hasn’t worked since.

  • Brandon January 9, 2011 (10:55 am)

    Any updates, still no power between 47th/48th and hinds

  • Megan January 9, 2011 (10:55 am)

    We had two power outages in lower Fauntleroy. I was a little groggy, but I don’t think either of them lasted much more than 5 minutes.
    That photo makes my heart hurt. Awful.

  • milo January 9, 2011 (11:04 am)

    City Light “help” line not so helpful. No recorded update since 5:45…no live person until Monday.

  • K January 9, 2011 (11:42 am)

    comcast still down. Agent says power restoration takes priority and then comcast. Makes sense.

  • Harris January 9, 2011 (11:46 am)

    We live at ctown & 47th. Still no power. SCL is really working hard tho. They have a new telephone pole hole drill and have begun to sink a new pole into place. Impressive efforts on their part.

    Hope the 2 car occupants are OK. They must have been flying to be able to snap a telephone in half. Eek.

  • Joe January 9, 2011 (12:01 pm)

    Of course, I would happen to be one of the 100 still affected… Looks fairly localized now though, and they have the new pole in. Maybe it won’t be too much longer.

  • Anna January 9, 2011 (12:06 pm)

    Any word on if power is back on in the junction? Was trying to go to yoga this morning but classes were cancelled due to the power outage.

    • WSB January 9, 2011 (12:25 pm)

      Anna – Here’s one possible hint, West 5 tweeted more than an hour ago that their power was back.
      Also, when my co-publisher checked out the volunteer searchers’ gathering at Puerto Vallarta (Jeremy Peck case), PV and all around it had power too. I believe the remaining powerlessness is mostly around the actual crash scene. – TR

  • funkietoo January 9, 2011 (12:18 pm)

    My positive thoughts go out to the accident victims. The car is a frightening heap of scrap metal and it is amazing they survived.

    I live at the top of the Charlestown jump hill, on 46th. Various neighbors have tried for years to implement safety measures at the top of the jump hill. We have been given many excuses…from no money to the fact that it is an arterial to Alki for the Firetrucks. Even though the Firetrucks have to come to a near stop in order to go down the hill.

    Also of note is that we have been told the grade of the Charlestown jump hill is actually illegal (by today’s standards?)however, the City does not want to move the Firetruck arterial access one block south to Andover (which is truly a residential street), because they fear an accident may occur with (a firetruck?) and the City would be sued.

    Maybe this tragic accident will help bring some safety enhancements to this intersection.

  • Charlestowner January 9, 2011 (1:23 pm)

    We live close by — saw the car last night before the roof was removed right after the incident. Main impact with the pole appeared to be on the drivers side just behind the door — that side od the car was crumpled in, but the driver was moving. Both driver and passenger are in our thoughts today.

  • ad January 9, 2011 (1:33 pm)

    Anyone know how many terrible accidents have happened at this intersection?

    I’ve had a few close-calls when I’ve been heading east-bound (uphill) with young people trying to get their cars “air.”

  • admiralite January 9, 2011 (1:40 pm)

    LOL @ ^^^^^^^ (above poster) Gosh, my brother and I did the same thing when we were teens. I feel terrible for the people in the crash. That car is just messed up! I hope thy’ll be ok. I’m sure they’ll learn their lesson, if it wasn’t just a brake failure or something.

  • wsme January 9, 2011 (1:54 pm)

    Comcast runs on the poles underneath electricity so if a pole goes down, both services go down. As a poster mentioned before this, Comcast won’t be able to do any work on the pole until electricity is restored.

  • Lisa January 9, 2011 (2:01 pm)

    As always, WSB is instantly on the on scene with the full story, pictures, interviews, and thorough followup. We appreciate you WSB!

  • Todd_ January 9, 2011 (2:20 pm)

    Just wanted to add that I live on Charlestown and I too have tried to get the city to do something about speeding. For the last 6 years I have seen cars, daily, turn west bound on to Charlestown from CA Ave and hit the gas! Might be trying to catch air on the hill? Happens day and night.

  • Paula Tortorice January 9, 2011 (2:25 pm)

    @ admiralite – if you heard the speed at which the car was traveling when it went past my house moments before the crash, you’d think it wasn’t the brakes. I’m guessing the car launched itself off the top of the hill and when they came down, the driver lost control of the car.

    I’ve lived here for 23 years, and the last time I remember such an accident, the car that launched itself off the top of the hill landed in the rear end of the car in front of it. That was not a pretty sight either.

  • cathyw January 9, 2011 (2:52 pm)

    I’ve been told (don’t know if it is true) that particular hill has the steepest grade of any hill in Seattle.

    Also, Beach Drive has speed bumps and it sure seems like an arterial to me.

  • Harris January 9, 2011 (3:01 pm)

    Corner of Ctown / 47th (1/2 block from the scence) happy to report as if 3:00pm on the nose – we have power again!

    Thank you WSB and readers for your great coverage, as well as SCL for the incredible hustle!

  • J January 9, 2011 (3:03 pm)

    We r at 48th & Spokane and our power just came back on after 6 hours. Quick job SCL. Now Comcast get my cable up I’m missing the NFL Playoffs!!!!

  • Brandon January 9, 2011 (3:17 pm)

    Power just came back on at 47th and hinds, while it was cold and miserable the SCL did a good job getting it back up in a pretty timely manner. want to watch the playoffs now lol

  • george January 9, 2011 (3:25 pm)

    Feel more sorry for the passenger than the driver. A car that can snap a light pole is moving pretty darn fast (and hard).
    Seat belts, people. Seat belts.

  • ElevenTruckmen January 9, 2011 (3:39 pm)

    The Charlestown response route is more a route to access the Immediate area right off Charlestown. Think 55th east to the accident scene and Spokane south not quite to Genesse. It also gives North responding rigs access to 49th from California. We try to avoid Charlestown hill if at all possible.
    Beach drive has special Speed Bumps designed so large trucks (like Fire Engines) can straddle them and thus not need to slow down while responding. Why that is not an option on Charlestown I dont know.
    Yes, the car struck the pole at the B pillar (middle of the car) drivers side.
    Yes, the firefighters had to remove the roof of the car to access the patients in the car. That is a standard tactic we use to allow more people access into the passenger compartment to facilitate patient care and ease in removal. Both were removed from the passenger side of the vehicle.
    The last accident anyone of us could remember at that intersection was when two young men in a stolen car launched off the top and landed at the bottom and immedietly struck a minivan with a family in it stopped at the stop sign. In our memory there was at least one fatality maybe two and all the rest were serious injuries.

  • Stanley Wibble January 9, 2011 (4:00 pm)

    We should put a toll booth, manned (trolled?) by a troll at the top of the hill.

  • cathyw January 9, 2011 (5:02 pm)

    So they really launch out at the top of the hill and fly all the way to the bottom before landing? I had no idea. Unbelievable. I may start avoiding that hill altogether.

  • Emilie January 9, 2011 (5:11 pm)

    Is there any update regarding the condition of the passengers?

  • george January 9, 2011 (5:12 pm)

    Thanks 11, and for your service. The traffic report should be interesting when completed. Hopefully, no X-gamers will try to replicate.

  • cjboffoli January 9, 2011 (5:52 pm)

    cathyw: According to SDOT, a section of Charlestown is the fourth steepest street in the City of Seattle. E Roy Street between 25th Ave E and 26th Ave E has the steepest grade:
    Curious that the hill between 46th and 47th doesn’t make the list. I FEELS like a very steep grade.

  • Mn January 9, 2011 (5:58 pm)

    Can we somehow keep the car there on a elevated pole as a sobering reminder of what happens when inexperienced thrill seeking youth want to drive recklessly on our roads

  • Rod January 9, 2011 (5:59 pm)

    cjboffoli and all:

    I am very saddened at the tragic accident. I believe many young (and old) people make mistakes; I know I have.

    That hill is not in the top four steepest. The stretch of Charlestown that is on the list is way down below, near Beach Drive. I walked it today. I am sure that they are all pretty close, though!

  • toddinwestwood January 9, 2011 (6:13 pm)


    that just reads like “The Top 20 Sledding Streets in Seattle” to me. I am printing that one out.

  • Cclarue January 9, 2011 (6:15 pm)

    Comcast is there now.

  • Rod January 9, 2011 (6:18 pm)


    Let’s erect the pole in your neighborhood…

  • george January 9, 2011 (6:19 pm)

    So wait a minute, I’m reading that as between 59th and 60th, no?

  • Steve January 9, 2011 (6:27 pm)

    cjboffoli – I’m not saying that isn’t a steep hill, but the section of Charlestown the City web page you posted refers to is between 59th and 60th Ave SW.

    Hope the people will be OK.

  • Rod January 9, 2011 (6:27 pm)

    That area of West Seattle has many steep hills. Young and old, alike, should be careful.

  • cathyw January 9, 2011 (6:49 pm)

    Thanks CB. Interesting info. Yup, it does say between 59th and 60th tho……Walk up and down that one a lot also. Well, whatever their rank, they’re both pretty darn steep and the kids love to sled on them when there is snow. Also saw two Comcast trucks at the scene at 6:00.

  • JN January 9, 2011 (7:51 pm)

    Either drunk or just plain ignorant of potential consequences. A driver’s license is a privilege, not a right, yet the law does not treat incidents such as these as harshly as they deserve. Just think if instead of a telephone pole, these people had hit a person at that speed!

  • ca January 9, 2011 (9:19 pm)

    Does anyone know condition of the people in the car?….

    • WSB January 9, 2011 (9:33 pm)

      CA, there’s no further official information, but I’ll be checking with police early in the morning, who should at least be able to tell me if both survived. Without names, it’s impossible to call the hospital and ask about conditions – medical privacy laws changed a few years back. – TR

  • Citizen Sane January 9, 2011 (9:26 pm)

    Not to sound like a broken record, but I say again: Photo Radar. If people knew there was a unit there, and a speeding ticket would be a given, I think 99% of the problem would vanish overnight. Speeding on our residential streets is a chronic problem, and will continue to be until we’re willing to get serious. I think a lot of resistance comes from mostly law-abiding folks who want the law to turn a blind eye when they’re in a hurry to get somewhere. We all think we’re the ones who can yak on our cel phones, go 10+ mph over the limit, etc, ‘coz we’re the good drivers — until the Law of Averages catches up with us.

  • Mike January 9, 2011 (11:05 pm)

    Photo radar only generates revenue, never deters speeding.

  • Citizen Sane January 10, 2011 (6:43 am)

    @Mike: One simple question – would you speed past one if you knew it was there? I would be very curious to know where you got the data that supports your assertion. As far as ‘revenue generation’ goes, where would you like to have it come from; lawbreakers pockets, or your property taxes?

  • Rod January 10, 2011 (7:32 am)

    Come on, Mike! Do you really think photo radar never deters speeding?

    I can give you one example where it does: me, on 35th!

  • Karen January 10, 2011 (4:46 pm)

    Any news on how the people in the car are doing?

  • Mn January 10, 2011 (4:51 pm)

    What’s the status on the car occupants

    • WSB January 10, 2011 (5:24 pm)

      There is no official update. Unofficially – I got two names off the scanner that I *believe* were the occupants of the car. Harborview confirms that those two people are at their hospital and are in serious condition in ICU. However, I made a tiny leap of assumption in linking the police discussion to the crash – there’s a tiny chance it was a coincidence and those are two OTHER people who just wound up in the hospital together around the same time, and all Harborview can officially tell me is “those two people whose names you gave us are here and in serious condition.” … So anyway, if you followed all that, I’d say we *believe* they are in serious condition (which is better than “critical”). No word on the crash’s suspected cause … TR

  • Chuck January 10, 2011 (6:58 pm)

    I was one of the first persons at the scene. I live at the intersection of 47th / Charlestown. This happened just outside my kitchen window. Neighbors and I were there before the police and medics arrived.
    There was a nearly empty bottle of Jose Cuervo in the front seat of the vehicle. While I cannot verify that the driver was drinking, I believe it was highly likely.
    In talking to the police at the scene they said he went off the top of the hill traveling at least 70 mph. The car was airborne almost all the way to the bottom of the hill, where it impacted first. It then rolled several times and impacted the telephone pole with the driver’s side of the vehicle.
    I was told by a neighbor that a police officer at the scene told him the driver did pass away on Sunday. I cannot confirm this. I can tell you both of the occupants were in very serious condition at the scene and neither were responsive while we were waiting for the Police and medics. A very sad situation.

  • WSB January 10, 2011 (7:17 pm)

    Chuck – as I tried to qualify, I am not 100% sure of what I wrote above, but I can add one bit of information – I just sat through the entire long recording of the cases that the medical examiner investigated over the last three days, which would have included any death through this morning … and there was no name/age/gender/city of death/cause of death case that resembled anything close to what would have been the result of either driver or passenger dying in this crash. But I will repeat my inquiry to police tomorrow – they should at least be able to check with the traffic investigation squad and say conclusively if someone had died or not. – TR

  • Chuck January 10, 2011 (8:26 pm)

    It would be nice to know that they survived.

  • nicole January 10, 2011 (9:38 pm)

    One of these people is a friend of mine. I only know of his condition. He is now at St Peters. Broke his back, had surgrey and that is all I can say..

    • WSB January 10, 2011 (9:58 pm)

      The hospital in Olympia? Anyway, if you know anyone from your friend’s family (or if anyone reading this is from the family of either victim), many people are concerned about how they are doing, and as I’ve said a few times here, it’s almost impossible to get information, but if someone doesn’t want to leave a comment, you are also welcome to e-mail us at editor@westseattleblog.com, just so we can let people know how he/she/they are doing … thanks. TR

  • Barb January 11, 2011 (1:12 pm)

    Chuck – it’s your neighbors, Barb & Kel, please let us know if you hear an update about the couple in the car. The horrific accident is still causing me to lose sleep.
    I really wish there was something the City could do to force people to slow down when approaching that hill. Responding to these accidents in the middle of the night is traumatic and the deaths as a result are so tragic! Thx…

    • WSB January 11, 2011 (1:13 pm)

      I checked again with police this morning. They both survived, according to Detective Mark Jamieson in the media unit; he called the Traffic Collision investigators. Serious injuries but expected at this point to recover.

  • Chuck January 11, 2011 (2:45 pm)

    This is very good news. Thank god they will survive. As Barb points out, for those of us living at this intersection these frequent accidents have become very traumatic experiences. I myself have had vehicles end up through my fence and into my front yard, barely missing my house. There have been fatalities and very severe injuries in just the past 12 years I have lived here.

    This hill has been a continual problem for decades. Drivers traveling Westbound on Charlestown from California have quite a distance to build up speed before approaching the top of the hill. The hill is poorly signed, and for those unfamiliar with the neighborhood it often catches them by total surprise. Even traveling at 30 or 40 mph over this hill is dangerous. Drivers are often going so fast that they fail to stop at the stop sign at the bottom of the hill at 47th. With a Middle School just a block away and an Elementary School a few blocks away this is incredibly dangerous. I cannot help but think this is a potential liability for the city as a case might be made for negligence in managing the risk.

    One inexpensive solution to this problem would be a stop sign on westbound Charlestown at 46th Ave SW. This would force cars to stop before proceeding down the hill and therefore would reduce the rate the vast majority of the drivers took the hill. It would not stop the occasional drunk driver or reckless kid. However, many of these accidents have been people traveling at excessive speed; and most have been from outside the area, unfamiliar with the dramatic slope of the hill. A simple stop sign might save lives.
    The addition of a flashing light drawing attention to the existing steep hill warning sign (which goes completely unnoticed) would go along way toward warning people of this dangerous hill as well.

    The combination of these two improvements would cost the City very little, not impede the flow of traffic, not impair the ability of emergency response vehicles to maneuver, and would greatly improve the safety of the surrounding neighborhood.

  • miws January 11, 2011 (5:25 pm)

    I was wondering if there was some kind of traffic control at 46th & Charlestown. I don’t get to that area often, and don’t remember what the current set up is.


    The City did something, back, I believe in the ’70’s. I don’t remember if it was stop signs on Charlestown, or a “No Left Turn” westbound to southbound, or some other restriction. If it’s totally uncontrolled, and unrestricted now, it would be interesting to know the City’s reasoning for lifting the restriction.


    My Aunt’s Mother lived in the house on the southwest corner of 46 & Charlestown from probably going back at least to the ’40’s or 30’s, until she passed away in 1981, and as Chuck points out above, it’s been a problem for decades. My Aunt and Uncle lived a short distance away at 41st & Manning, and instead of going the quickest way, up 41st to Charlestown, then down Charlestown to 46th, she’d take the “long way” around, going south down to Bradford, or Andover (whichever goes all the way through westbound), and come back up northbound on 46th, just to avoid making that blind left turn at the top of the hill.



  • KCH January 11, 2011 (8:45 pm)


    We live on the NE corner of Charlestown/47th. We should organize and approach the city w/ some possible solutions. I like your idea of additional signs.

    Speed bumps, similar to the ones found on Beach Drive (which I believe is also an arterial) might be another option.

  • sc January 12, 2011 (7:00 am)

    We have lived near 46th and Charlestown for 18 years. I was sitting in my front room Sunday morning and heard the accident. The car was speeding as it headed west towards the hill. Usually after a car gets “air” you hear it bottom out and then the screech of brakes. This car did bottom out but I heard no brakes. The sound of the car rolling was like fingernails on a chalkboard amplified a thousand times and then came the tremendous bang as it hit the telephone pole. Would more signs or speed bumps have changed the outcome I don’t know. But in all the years living here I had never heard car crash sounds like that. And hope I never do again.

  • Barb January 12, 2011 (1:22 pm)

    Many thanks to the WS Blog for following up with the couple in this accident…having seen them that morning, I would not have thought that would be possible.
    I think the idea of speed bumps on Charlestown approaching that hill would have to prevent potential “thrill seekers” from getting up that kind of speed to be able to launch off the top of that hill.

  • ws native January 12, 2011 (10:34 pm)

    I hope those two people survive and I get to meet them. I want to thank them personally for the power surge that followed the power outage. It destroyed my TV. I am tired of irresponsible people causing trouble for everyone else.

    And why doesn’t the city turn Charleston into a one way street, heading up the hill? Maybe from 51st to California.

  • k January 12, 2011 (11:09 pm)

    These people are incredibly lucky to be alive, you would not be making such materialistic comments if you had been there before the medics arrived trying to tell the man not to move as he went in and out of semi counsciosness. yes they made a horrible mistake, hopefully from this experience they will have learned a valuable lesson. Complaining so heartleslessy only makes you look bad, my advice get a surge protector so your electronics are safe.

  • johnny-on-the-spot January 20, 2011 (6:50 pm)

    I agree with WS native. They should’ve received the Darwin award, but since they didn’t it is ok in my book to be ticked that their idiocy fried his tv. They should pay up.

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