More on the accident.
By Randy Trick, Peninsula Daily News
PORT ANGELES - When an out-of-control motor home fell off a 20-foot embankment Tuesday afternoon, it sounded like thunder.
It felt like it, too, Will Possinger said on Wednesday.
He and 15-year-old Stephen Bales, both of Port Angeles, were less than a block away from the 3 p.m. multiple-vehicle collisions at the intersection of Race Street and Lauridsen Boulevard.
They were among the first people there and among the first to call 9-1-1.
Bales and the 24-year-old Possinger removed pieces of both broken trees and the broken RV, clearing access for paramedics to a family of seven stuck in the Monaco Monarch motor home estimated at 37-feet long.
Those who were the first to the crash site said they remember clearly the sound of family members screaming, afraid to climb out of their motor home because they did not want to risk disturbing their patriarch, Lonnie Owens of Fair Grove, Mo., who had been driving and was seriously injured.
"His screaming in pain was so hard for me and Stephen; the wife and girls were just screaming," Possinger said.
"It was really hard . . . both of us just wanted to sit down and cry and throw up, but we kept going."
The 51-year-old father remained in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Wednesday.
Both his wife, 50-year-old Vickey Owens, and his daughter, 14-year-old Autumn, remained in stable condition at Olympic Medical Center on Wednesday.
Their 20-year-old son, Aaron, was discharged from OMC on Wednesday morning.
Two other family members - 17-year-old Ashton and 22-year-old Austin - and a family friend, 20-year-old Kelly Johns of Springfield, Mo., were treated and discharged on Tuesday.
The Port Angeles Police Department suspects the brakes on the motor home failed in the final stretch of the family's descent from Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.
A State Patrol inspector of commercial vehicles looked over the 17-year-old vehicle's mechanics to determine whether the brakes failed, were worn or if there were any other kind of mechanical damage.
A report about the motor home's condition is expected this week, said Teresa Pierce, city of Port Angeles spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, access to two family members still recovering at Olympic Medical Center was restricted to doctors and nurses.
Family members who had been discharged from the hospital flew to Seattle Wednesday afternoon to be with their father, said Jared Melvin of Port Angeles, who had been helping the family.
Melvin did not know the Owens family before Tuesday, but on Wednesday, he was delivering them their belongings from the impounded RV and the site of the crash.
The family is in shock, he said, trying to keep their lives together as the parents are treated in two different hospitals.
Many taken to hospital
In total, 15 people were taken to OMC after the crash Tuesday.
All others in the crash were treated and discharged on Tuesday night.
That included a family from Bellevue, a couple from Florida and a family from Strasbourg, France.
All the patients were discharged, admitted or - in the case of Lonnie Owens - transferred to Harborview within three hours, said Charles Bundy, trauma medical director at OMC.
The hospital ramped up staffing in the emergency room based on initial reports from paramedics that there were multiple injuries, Bundy said.
He said only the number of patients coming to the hospital at once made Tuesday different than any other day.
"Outside the numbers that came in, it is the same thing we do every week," he said.
"We have much more trauma here than any other similar sized community," he said, referring to the number of car crashes on U.S. Highway 101.
Knew it was bad
Poul Borup, living one house south of the intersection of Race Street and Lauridsen Boulevard, knew the crash Tuesday was going to require a lot of ambulances, and he said as much when he called 9-1-1.
He heard the motor home hit a 2003 Buick Rendezvous from Florida near Park Street - the first of three cars involved in the crash.
He watched it speed through the intersection below him, striking a rented 2007 Chevrolet Impala and 2004 Ford Explorer, spinning both out of the way as it headed for the guardrail along the western sidewalk.
The two cars held members of the Steinmetz family of France and the Lord family of Bellevue, which were visiting Port Angeles together.
Borup watched the motor home tumble off the embankment north of Lauridsen Boulevard into the Peabody Creek gully.
"As soon as I saw it I thought 'this is a 9-1-1 moment,'" Borup said.
"I told them (dispatchers) 'this is gonna be a big one.'
In shadow of bridge
In the kitchen of a modest brown cottage in the shadow of the Lauridsen bridge, Jan Martel and her husband were cooking an early dinner with corn on the cob and potato salad.
Her husband was boiling water for the corn when they heard two loud booms - the motor home striking the Chevrolet and Ford, then coming to rest on their driveway after it fell over the side of the road.
The motor home missed a power pole by mere inches, she said, based on scrapes left on adjacent trees.
The motor home sheared off a number of trees about a foot off the ground, but finally came to rest when its front end uprooted an entire tree, Martel said.
Bales and Possinger did not realize at first the motor home was involved in the crash, they said.
"We saw the cars had been hit first, and thought that was it - everyone was OK," Bales said.
"We saw the guardrail was out, so we went over and looked, and saw the trees down."
The pair worked for about five minutes before paramedics from the Port Angeles Fire Department arrived.
After that, they stood back and tried to be helpful without being in the way.
Martel said she was in shock and unsure as to what to do.
"I heard the screaming right away," she said.
"It was just horrible."
Reporter Randy Trick can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at email@example.com