18-year-old dies in single-car wreck after car plunges down embankment

An 18-year-old Port Angeles teenager died last week at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after the vehicle he was traveling in plunged down an embankment May 25 off Woods Road.

Jebedia Fish of Port Angeles was a passenger who died as a result of the crash, a family member confirmed.

Cousin Nicole Coburn did not want to discuss the death.

Clallam County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested a 15-year-old Sequim-area driver May 25 after the wreck sent Fish to Harborview with critical head injuries, authorities said. A Harborview official confirmed that Fish died May 26.

After the driver was medically cleared at Olympic Medical Center for incarceration, he was booked into the Clallam County Juvenile Detention Center, said the sheriff’s office.

He was released later Friday until the sheriff’s office investigation is complete, said Tracey Lassus, a deputy prosecuting attorney with the county prosecuting attorney’s office.

Before Fish died, the wreck was under investigation as a vehicular assault.

“I’m assuming now it will be looked at as a vehicular homicide,” Lassus said. “That will be determined by the investigating agency.”

Three occupants were transported to OMC with injuries, none of which was life-threatening, Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said.

The passengers, all males, were between 15-19 years of age.

King would not identify the driver because he is a minor.

He also would not identify the other passengers — including an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old.

All the passengers and the driver left the scene in ambulances, said King, “and we have a lot more investigation to do with all these guys.”

The investigation of the incident is on hold until this week, King said Saturday.

The occupants told deputies they were wearing seat belts.

That and other aspects of the incident will be investigated by the sheriff’s office traffic unit, King said.

“We should have a more definitive answer on the seat belts (this) week,” King said.

“That will give us a much stronger indication on the ability to corroborate everyone’s statements.”

An autopsy on Fish also will be conducted — likely this week — by the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, King added.

Deputies found the gray 2005 Nissan Sentra in which Fish and two others were passengers about 20 feet down an embankment.

He did not know whether the adult passengers had driver’s licenses.

Determining why a 15-year-old and not an adult was driving the car is part of the investigation, King said.

Deputies initially arrested the driver for investigation of vehicular assault, reckless driving and operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license.

At the time of the collision, the juvenile was on active probation for a misdemeanor, Lassus said.

Deputies said drugs or alcohol are not suspected as a factor in the collision.

Deputies were dispatched at 8:40 p.m. to the 2200 block of Woods Road south of Blyn after receiving a 9-1-1 call from the driver, who reported the collision.

They said they determined that the vehicle had been traveling north on Woods Road when the driver lost control of the vehicle while attempting to negotiate a curve. The vehicle struck a tree before coming to rest over the embankment.

On arrival, deputies found two of the car occupants had climbed out of the vehicle and climbed back to the road, said King. Another was standing near the car when deputies arrived.

Only Fish was still in the car.

None of the occupants had to be removed from the vehicle except Fish, who was removed by responders from Clallam Fire District 3, King said.

King said the Sentra was extensively damaged. It has been impounded indoors at the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office for further investigation.

The Sentra is registered to a Perry Ringer of Everett, according to King. He said it was not reported missing or stolen.

The roadway is described as a gravel-surfaced, single-lane logging road.

A specialized traffic collision investigation reconstructionist from the sheriff’s office Criminal Investigations Bureau is assisting in the investigation.

Paul Gottlieb is a senior staff writer and Mark Swanson is an assistant managing editor with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach Gottlieb at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com. Reach Swanson at 360-452-2345, ext. 55450, or mswanson@peninsuladailynews.com.

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