3 BHS students die in single-vehicle rollover

Coroner: cause of death was “head and neck trauma” while manner was “accidental”

Three female Bainbridge High School students died in a single-vehicle rollover Tuesday night in the 11000 block of Sunrise Drive, according to the Bainbridge Island Police Department.

BIPD and the BI Fire Department responded just before 9 p.m. According to a news release, the vehicle had been traveling south, then left the roadway and struck several trees before rolling over.

The three girls died at the scene. They have been identified by the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office as Bainbridge Island residents Hannah Wachsman, 16; Marina Miller, 14; and Hazel Kleiner, 14.

According to an email sent from the BI School District to families Wednesday, all three were students at BHS. The three students were also teammates on the BHS junior varsity volleyball team, according to the team roster. The district mobilized a Crisis Support Team, and counselors will be in the BHS library for students in need of emotional support.

“These losses are sure to raise many emotions for our students, staff and the island community,” the email from superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen says. “As a parent, you know your teen best and know how to support their needs.

“This may be their first experience with death or it may be that the tragedies bring back feelings from past experiences. It is particularly difficult in this case as your teen may have known the victims or simply that your teen faces his or her own mortality for the first time. Your teen may express feelings of shock, denial, confusion, anger or sadness.”

Later Wednesday, Bang-Knudsen held a news conference and said all three girls grew up on BI and attended school locally through high school. He also confirmed that they were in 9th and 10th grade. A vigil was held Wednesday night at Waterfront Park to honor the three students.

“They were teammates, they were classmates, they were friends to so many people,” Bang-Knudsen said. “This is going to have a deep impact on our community. Bainbridge Island is a tight-knit community. We know each other; there’s a deep connectivity. We’re really going to grapple with this loss.”

The day after the accident, the superintendent said students dealt with the tragedy in different ways.

“There were tears happening,” he said. “They were able to just talk through that. They were making posters and just finding ways to remember their friends.”

As a father himself, Bang-Knudsen said the tragedy had a profound effect on him.

“It certainly connects with me on a very personal level,” he said. “The scope and scale of three young lives being lost in that moment is very difficult to comprehend.”

In a time of grieving, it is only natural to want to hug or make contact with someone, but in the times of COVID-19, Bang-Knudsen said students and staff will have to work around those barriers to comply with social distancing guidelines.

“To some extent, it’s like we’re doing this grieving in our individual COVID bubbles,” he said.

On Thursday, the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office announced that autopsies were performed by a forensic pathologist. The cause of death for all three girls was “head and neck trauma,” while the manner of death for all three was “accidental.”

In the email, contact information from the BHS counseling team was listed along with other local organizations that can offer assistance, such as:

BHS Counseling Team: Adam Ward (A-C) 206-780-1259, award@bisd303.org; Nicole Wescott (D-H) 206-780-1291, nwescott@bisd303.org; Krista Pal (I-Mc) 206-780-1293, kpal@bisd303.org; Lauren D’Amico (Me-Ri) 206-780-1292, ldamico@bisd303.org; Cara Tebo (Ro-Z) 206-780-1269, ctebo@bisd303.org.

Organizations: Bainbridge Youth Services, 206-842-9675, https://askbys.org/ ; Crisis Clinic of the Peninsulas, 800-843-4793, www.crisisclinicofthepeninsulas.org ; Kitsap Mental Health Services, 360-373-3425, https://www.kitsapmentalhealth.org/