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Highway crash claims island couple

Local architects Kenneth Hartz and Kathy Bergum were killed near Cle Elum.

A head-on collision claimed the lives of an island couple Saturday, leaving their children with serious injuries and stunning friends and colleagues on Bainbridge.

Kathleen Annette “Kathy” Bergum, and her husband, Kenneth William Hartz, both age 49 and both Bainbridge architects, were killed when another driver crossed the center line and struck their vehicle about 3 miles east of Cle Elum in Kittitas County.

Their son Kyle Hartz, 12, remained in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center Monday with head injuries, a Washington State Patrol spokesman said, while daughter Kirsten Hartz, 16, was listed in serious but stable condition.

Also killed in the crash was the driver of the other vehicle, Stephen Marshall Talbot, 51, of Wenatchee, while the driver of a third vehicle involved in the crash was uninjured.

Bergum had been with Winslow’s O’Connor Kreigh Architects for about three years, and had practiced on the East Coast for some years prior to coming to Bainbridge Island more than a decade ago.

She was a long-time volunteer with the Bainbridge Island School District, joining other parents to found the Odyssey Multiage Program 14 years ago, and working on district facilities planning for more than a decade.

“She just kind of quietly kept working, doing whatever she could,” said Bruce Weiland, a school board member. “She was very devoted to schools and kids and community. She was just a sweetheart. I don’t know what else to say.”

Catherine Camp, Commodore Options Program director and a close personal friend, remembered Bergum for her work on school planning over many years.

“It’s really been a 10-year act of love that she’s followed the district’s planning,” Camp said. “She wanted us to do it right. She wanted us to honor our children by building the best facilities possible.

“She was a very dear friend of mine. I’m devastated at what this community is losing, with what she has done over the years.”

Bergum was also active with the Housing Resources Board, and several years ago won an award for designing affordable housing.

“She was very quiet, but she had a great sense of value in what she did,” said Weiland, who also worked with Bergum in renovating his own “Winslow Corner” building at Winslow Way and the highway, where the Chamber of Commerce is located.

“When we started working with her on the building, she really took to the idea of trying to preserve the heart and soul of the building even though we were trying to modernize it.”

Bergum’s husband, Kenneth Hartz, was an architect employed in the Winslow office of Peter Brachvogel.

The family was heading east on State Route 970 near Cle Elum when the accident occurred around 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

A Toyota Tacoma pickup driven by Talbot crossed the center line, sideswiping a vehicle driven by a 60-year-old Wenatchee man and careening headlong into Hartz and Bergum’s Dodge Caravan.

Bergum died at the scene, while Hartz was transported to Harborview Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries. Both were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

A 14-year-old girl in Talbot’s vehicle also was injured.

Autopsy results are pending, but alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the accident, the Washington State Patrol said, and it was still unclear Tuesday what caused Talbot to veer into the oncoming lane.

The two-lane stretch of highway where the collision occurred is straight, and the weather was sunny, with no ice or other problems on the roadway.

“We’re still trying to determine why he crossed the center line,” said Trooper Rich Magnussen of the Washington State Patrol. “This may be one of those collisions where we never know.”

Services for Bergum and Hartz have yet to be announced.

Members of the Odyssey Multi-age community have established a website, www.portbainbridge.com, to share stories, pictures and information and to honor the family.

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