Longtime San Juan County public works employee dies in motorcycle crash

Longtime San Juan County Public Works employee Mike Copas died in a motorcycle crash near the on-ramp to the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 late Friday afternoon, in Burlington.

Copas, who was driving a 2006 Harley Davidson at the time, was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision. He was 56.

"Those of us who worked with Mike appreciated his intelligence, his sense of humor, and his practical and down-to-earth nature." county Manager Mike Thomas said in a statement posted on the county website shortly after the fatal crash. "It was a pleasure to work with him, and he will be sorely missed by his fellow employees and those in the community that he served."

According to trooper Mark Francis of the Washington State Patrol, Copas was attempting to pass a vehicle at a point where the two lanes of the southbound on-ramp merge into one, at about 5:15 p.m., when he failed to negotiate a right-hand bend in the roadway.

He crossed the two lanes of traffic on southbound I-5 before striking a guardrail in the meridian that separates the north and southbound lanes at a high-rate of speed, Francis said.

Copas joined San Juan County in 1995, starting out on the road crew, then as an engineering technician, responsible for utilities inspections. He was promoted to ER&R Fleet Manager in 1999.

Prior to joining San Juan County's Department of Public Works, Copas worked as a facilities project manager at Boeing.

— Scott Rasmussen




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