Yesterday, the Washington State Police released its findings on a crash that resulted in the death of Trooper Sean O’Connell on May 31, 2013.
On that day, O’Connell’s motorcycle collided with a truck at the intersection of Fir Island Road and Greenfield St., south of Mt. Vernon.
While the investigation is still ongoing, the WSP says it appears that as the truck was making a right turn onto Greenfield, O’Connell was driving along the shoulder of the road, and was passing on the truck on the right side. O’Connell drove into the path of the truck as the driver was turning. The truck driver did not see O’Connell’s motorcycle.
Investigators have determined that O’Connell was not using his emergency lights or siren. “Experience has shown that some drivers, upon hearing a siren, make sudden maneuvers to the right. If troopers are forced to pass on the right, they generally turn off their emergency lights and sirens to avoid being hit,” Washington State Police reported.
“There was no one single cause for this tragedy,” said Captain Charles LeBlanc, commander of the Patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division. “There was a combination of circumstances that led to a horrific end.”
“The reason we have motorcycles is precisely because they can maneuver around traffic,” LeBlanc said. “Passing on the right is something our troopers are trained to do in the performance of their duties, and like many of our duties, it involves risks.”
Investigators also believe the guard rail’s presence contributed to O’Connell’s death, as it cut off O’Connell’s “potential escape.”
“A couple of seconds in time, or a couple of feet either way, and we’d likely have had a very different outcome,” LeBlanc said.
The truck driver was not issued any citations and no charges are being sought against the truck driver, WSP said.