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UPDATE | Impact of car crash likely the cause of passenger's death in highway accident

The Bainbridge Island man who lost his life last week the day after an unreported car accident near Poulsbo died from a ruptured aorta, according to authorities investigating the crash.

Officials said the accident on Highway 3 near Highway 305, about a quarter mile west of Poulsbo, is still under investigation.

Russell J. Bruce, 34, was a back-seat passenger in a 2003 Dodge Durango that went off the road and hit a road sign about 7:30 a.m. Jan. 2, said State Trooper Russ Winger.

Bruce, a Bainbridge Island resident, died Jan. 3.

Winger said the State Patrol found evidence at the scene that matched the driver's account of the crash.

The State Patrol said Alexander L. Bigwood, 29, of Port Orchard, was driving north on Highway 3 with two co-workers on their way to work when the SUV slipped off the road near the junction of Highway 305 and hit a road sign.

"It was apparently icy that morning and they lost control in that vicinity and slid off the road and into the sign post," Winger said.

The accident was not reported until the following day.

"There wasn't a lot of damage to the car, it was minor. The car was drivable and left the scene," he added.

While the driver and other passenger felt good enough to go on, Bruce did not.

"He apparently felt shaken up enough to go back home," Winger said.

Winger said Bruce eventually felt ill enough to seek medical help at an emergency room, where it was discovered that his injury was more severe than previously assumed.

"According to coroner's release, he suffered a ruptured aorta, and that can occur from a blunt impact," Winger said.

It doesn't necessarily take a heavy impact to damage the heart like this, Winger added.

"We don't know if he was wearing a seatbelt or not," Winger said. "You don't have to have an extreme impact to damage your heart like that."

Troopers are still investigating, and have plans to talk to the other passenger in the SUV.

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