Woman dies when car goes into harbor

Police believe the death of Willmetta Allen, age 88,

was accidental.

A woman whose body was found in a half-submerged car off the south shore of Blakely Harbor Monday morning was the victim of an apparent accidental drowning, police say.

Willmetta “Willi” Allen, age 88, of Bainbridge Island, died sometime late Sunday or early Monday when her car plunged into the harbor at the end of a long driveway to her Country Club Road residence.

There were no witnesses to the incident. The vehicle was reported in the harbor by a neighbor who was walking on the beach at about 8:30 a.m. Jan. 5, Bainbridge Police Officer David Portrey said.

Rescue crews found the car, a Honda Accord, with water over the hood, although it was unclear when the vehicle went into the harbor or what the tide was at that time.

Allen’s body was taken to the county morgue; an autopsy Monday afternoon showed drowning as the probable cause of death, although the case remained open pending toxicology results.

There was no indication of trauma or foul play, said Louise Hall, chief deputy coroner for Kitsap County.

Allen had been a Bainbridge Island resident since 1961, when she and her husband Charles P. Allen built a custom home on Blakely Harbor.

Charles, her husband of 65 years, died just four weeks ago on Dec. 8. But Bainbridge Police Detective Scott Anderson said there was no indication Allen was despondent or intended to harm herself.

“People who knew her say, especially considering her husband had just died, that she was in reasonably good spirits,” Anderson said.

It appeared that the vehicle went at some speed through the carport of the Allen residence, across the lawn and over the 8-foot-high concrete bulkhead before coming to rest in the water.

A large planter box in the lawn was knocked askew; corresponding damage to the vehicle’s right front fender indicated that the car was traveling forward when it went into the water.

The vehicle’s transmission was found in reverse, suggesting that Allen was conscious after the plunge and attempted to back up out of the water.

But the vehicle windows were rolled up and the doors were locked, indicating that she was unable to escape as the vehicle filled with water.

“There’s no question the car went straight down the hill forward,” Anderson said, speculating that Allen may have missed the brake and hit the accelerator by mistake. “There had to be some significant acceleration.”

An obituary for Allen’s husband indicated that the couple left several nephews, but no children. Their closest relative appeared to be a Port Townsend resident.

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