Crime teaser

Woman sentenced for hitting flagger

The woman who struck a Friday Harbor flagger in October 2018 was sentenced to 15 days of work crew and 360 hours of community service to be completed within two years.

During a sentencing hearing on Nov. 29, San Juan County District Court Judge Carolyn Jewett heard statements from friends of the victim as well as the victim herself.

A restitution hearing as well as community service review hearing is set for 2 p.m., Feb. 9, 2021.

Brooke Elizabeth Radcliffe, 24, of Friday Harbor, pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment in San Juan County District Court on Oct. 7 and was sentenced on Oct. 29.

A toxicology report revealed Radcliffe had not consumed any drugs or alcohol prior to the incident. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Callahan attributed the wreck to a traumatic event that rippled outward like a rock thrown into water.

“[Radcliffe] can’t unring that bell, she can’t take those ripples in the water back but she can perform a penance in some way to show the community that she’s accepting punishment to make it right.”

A clinical behavioral health evaluation of Radcliffe concluded that at the time of the wreck, she was experiencing a dissociative fugue, brought about by emotional distress she was experiencing at the time.

“She wasn’t in a state of mind that is considered normal,” Callahan said.

The victim and five of her friends and family spoke in court about the effect the wreck had on her life. Since the morning of Oct. 5, 2018, the victim said she’s been unable to return to work and a normal life because of injuries sustained — both physical and mental.

“I want to take my power back, I want to start living my life again,” the victim said.

The victim described her morning the day of the incident, leading up to when she saw the van come barreling toward her. She described the face of the driver as “weird, demented, horrible.”

“There was nothing there, nothing, no human,” the victim said. “I screamed and that’s all I remember.”

Since then, the victim said she’s had to fight the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries to receive compensation for back surgery. She said they accused her of fraud and she had to fight for her case. She said she and her husband have decided to pay for the surgery themselves.

She’s also been unable to return to work, she explained.

“I thought I could get over the traumatic event but I could not,” the victim said.

Radcliffe was charged with reckless endangerment in San Juan County District Court in October 2019, nearly one year after she had reportedly struck a person, a backhoe and two cars with a van.

At approximately 7:15 a.m. on Oct. 5, 2018, a deputy responded to a report of a hit-and-run involving a road construction flagger at the intersection of Spring Street and Argyle Avenue. Dispatch told the deputy that the woman flagger was struck by a vehicle which then fled the scene and that the driver was detained by several citizens.

Radcliffe was driving a van when she struck the first vehicle while backing out of a spot in a parking lot for a Friday Harbor business. She reportedly “burned out her tires” and proceeded to Spring Street, where she struck the rear left corner of a white van that was stopped for traffic.

As Radcliffe neared the traffic circle, she disobeyed the flagger’s signals to stop. She then struck the victim and a backhoe with the van, according to a witness who was operating the machinery. The witness then said he began to pursue the vehicle with the backhoe onto Nichols Street, where he said the van pulled over and “smoke[d] the tires.” Using the backhoe, the witness said he blocked the van in where it was stopped.

The flagger was transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries sustained.

The deputy continued in his report that Radcliffe answered his questions with single words and appeared to not comprehend the conversation. She also was unable to control her bladder, the deputy reported. A paramedic drew her blood for testing.

Radcliffe was also issued a citation for not having insurance and for not having a driver’s license on her person.

At the sentencing, Radcliffe apologized to the victim.

“Ms. Radcliffe, you have your whole life ahead of you. You have opportunities and growth ahead of you,” Jewett said at the sentencing. “You have some of the opportunities Mrs. Hebert has lost.”