Family members are mourning the loss of a Sequim woman who died last week on a wintry-slick Eastern Washington road.
Washington State University student Jessica R. Brooks, 26, was on her way home for the holidays and driving westbound at about 9:10 a.m. Dec. 27 on two-lane state Highway 26, State Patrol spokesman Gabe Olson said.
Brooks lost control of her vehicle while rounding a curve 8 miles east of Colfax, crossing the center line and swerving into the eastbound lane.
“There was slush in places, there was snow in places, there was ice in places and it was wet in places,” Olson said.
“The unfortunate thing is, this happens on a regular basis, but it does not always end as tragically.”
After spinning around 180 degrees, her 2011 Kia Sportage was hit squarely in the rear by an eastbound 1988 Peterbilt semi driven by Timothy A. Dean, 52, of Lewiston, Olson said.
She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The State Patrol determined that the cause of the crash was speeding too fast for conditions on the 55-mile-per-hour two-lane highway.
Brooks was born in Port Angeles, grew up in Sequim, and lived with her parents, said her father, Gary Brooks, a Peninsula Communications dispatch systems coordinator.
One of six siblings, she was four months shy of graduating with her doctorate from the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.
After being home-schooled, she attended Peninsula College for two years, transferred to Western Washington University to earn a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology, then spent almost four years at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine.
She was set to graduate May 6.
Her father recalled attending her “white coat” ceremony shortly after his daughter began taking classes at WSU.
Brooks and some 120 other students were presented with new white coats to symbolize the beginning of their schooling.
A dean said the vast majority of veterinary students choose that professional path as teenagers.
“That was very true with Jes,” her father said.
Her mother, Suzanne, recalled that when Brooks was 12 or 13, she helped take care of sheep and dogs in a neighbor’s field.
The dogs were trained to herd the sheep for competitions.
“When the sheep went away, she was just lost,” her mother said. “She needed to have animals around her.”
Brooks also was active in the Sequim Worship Center, an Assembly of God church.
She also worked at campus ministries in Bellingham while at Western and Pullman while at WSU, and went on missionary trips to Mexico and New Mexico.
Brooks is survived by three brothers and two sisters ranging in age from 21-40.
Suzanne Brooks said donations should be made to the Olympic Peninsula Humane Society in lieu of flowers.
Memorial services were scheduled for Jan. 1 at Sequim Worship Center after the regular service.
Paul Gottlieb is a senior staff writer with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.