The Hoquiam Police Department has identified the woman who was killed by an Ocean Express truck in Hoquiam Tuesday afternoon as 50-year-old Hoquiam resident Darla Dean.
Deputy Chief Don Wertanen said Wednesday Dean was crossing 22nd Street at the base of the Simpson Avenue Bridge in her motorized wheelchair when a truck heading south on 22nd Street toward Ocean Protein struck her in the crosswalk. The driver, a 41-year-old Raymond man whose name has not yet been released, was stopped at the stop sign at the intersection of 22nd and Simpson and failed to see Dean when he began to cross Simpson Avenue.
“He stated he never saw the victim cross the road,” Wertanen said. The driver didn’t realize he had hit anything until “he looked in his side mirror and saw the wheelchair laying in the middle of the street.”
“The impact of the collision swept the female under the vehicle, causing massive injuries resulting in her death at the scene,” Wertanen said.
The driver was interviewed by police and had his blood drawn, a standard practice in a fatal collision involving a commercial vehicle, Wertanen said. Police are investigating the incident and waiting on toxicology tests, but there is no indication of anything criminal so far.
“It appears to be a tragic accident,” Wertanen said.
Dean’s childhood friend Besty Petrich said Dean suffered from multiple sclerosis, but maintained her independence with her electric wheelchair.
“She was the kind of person that told you straight up how she felt about things,” Petrich said. “She didn’t beat around the bush, and that’s what I really admire in a person. … She really appreiated things. I loved making her smile and laugh.”
Petrich and Dean became friends at the Cosmopolis School as children.
“She was loved dearly,” Petrich said. “She just has always been a true friend.”
“The last words I said to her were I love you. … I’m just so glad I was able to say that to her,” she added.
Dean is survived by her teenage daughter, her mother Blanche Dean, and brother Bill Dean, all of Cosmopolis.
“I realize there’s a reason for everything, and like her mother said, she’s no longer in any pain,” Petrich said.
The Simpson Avenue Bridge was closed for about three hours while Hoquiam officers and troopers from the Washington State Patrol investigated the scene. Traffic was re-routed over the Riverside Bridge.
Wertanen called the city Public Works department to start the detour shortly after arriving on scene.
“They did a fantastic job,” he said.
State Department of Transportation workers arrived later to help with traffic.
Ocean Express is a trucking division of Ocean Companies, which owns Ocean Protein in Hoquiam and Ocean Gold in Westport.