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Friday Harbor's Gary LeGate dies in collision near Othello

Gary LeGate of San Juan Island, owner of the Napa Auto store in Friday Harbor and Gary's Automotive, died early Tuesday morning when his pickup was struck at a high rate of speed by a large delivery truck near Othello.

LeGate, 66, was the sole occupant of his Ford Escape at the time of the crash, which occurred just outside of Othello, Wash., at about 5 a.m., on State Route 17.

According to Sergeant David DeVere of the Washington State Patrol, Legate was traveling north as he began slowing down to make a 90-degree turn near the intersection with Lee Road, which leads east into the city Othello. The delivery truck, headed south, was only moments from the intersection at that time.

DeVere said LeGate came to a complete stop on the two-lane highway where it intersects with Lee Road. He said the driver of the bread truck had little time to react, slammed into the driver's side of LeGate's pickup and "T-boned" the vehicle at about 50 mph, on a stretch of road where the speed limit is 60 mph.

"For some inexplicable reason he stopped right in the middle of the intersection," said DeVere, WSP's investigator at the scene. "He must not have seen the bread truck coming, but I guess we'll never know."

Given the size of the truck and the speed at which it was traveling at the time of the crash, DeVere said LeGate would have died instantly.

LeGate reportedly was in that area to visit relatives. The collision occurred just after sun rise.

DeVere said the delivery truck driver lost control of the vehicle on impact and that it collapsed on its driver's side after veering off the road. The man, trapped briefly inside the truck, was able to climb out of the passenger-side window and escaped the crash with only minor injuries, he said.

Tests conducted after the collision show the man was not impaired by alcohol. Results of LeGate's toxicology are pending.

Devere said the Ford Escape, stationary at the time, was no match in a collision with a delivery truck of that size and moving at such speed.

"Picture the largest U-Haul that you can rent," he said of the truck. "It's probably a little bit bigger than that."

— Scott Rasmussen

 

 

 

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