One dead, two hurt in Lopez Island crash; excessive vehicle speed is suspected cause

A man from British Columbia is dead and a Lopez Island teen is in a Seattle hospital after a collision Sunday afternoon on Lopez Sound Road.

Paul John Jaholkowsky, 26, was jogging southbound on Lopez Sound Road at about 2:30 p.m. when, according to authorities, he was struck head-on by a 1974 Chevy Nova driven by a 15-year-old Lopez boy, who was driving north at what is believed to be a high rate of speed.

The boy had a 17-year-old friend in the front passenger seat.

Authorities believe Jaholkowsky died instantly, based on the speed at which the car was traveling and the force it would have delivered.

“He probably died on impact,” Sheriff Bill Cumming said. “Our investigation is still ongoing but I think it’s safe to say the speed was excessive.”

Jaholkowsky, a resident of Abbotsford, B.C., was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been visiting the island with a friend who, Cumming said, identified Jaholkowsky following the deadly collision.

Moments before Jaholkowsky was struck, a Seattle family of four bicycling southbound narrowly escaped being mowed down by the car, authorities said.

The Chevy came up over a slight rise in the road and clipped a 7-year-old girl, who was flown to Harborview Medical Center with wrist and hand injuries. The car then struck Jaholkowsky.

The driver lost control of the car, which slammed twice into an embankment before coming to a stop.

On Monday, Cumming said the 17-year-old passenger was in Harborview Medical Center and the extent of his injuries were not known. The boy struck the windshield with his head and was thrown from the vehicle when the sedan slammed into the embankment.

The 15-year-old, alleged to be the driver, was released to his parents late Sunday and charges are pending.

Cumming said even though the 15-year-old boy had a learner’s permit, state law still prohibits him from driving solely with a chaperone 17 years of age.

The crash was under investigation Monday, but Cumming said neither alcohol or drugs appear at this point to have played a role.

Cumming said that vehicle speed and inexperience are likely to blame.

Neither teen was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, Cumming said.

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