Road rage incident blamed for Highway 305 crash

A 60-year-old Bainbridge Island woman may be facing a charge of reckless driving after she lost control of her car on Highway 305 during a road rage incident last week.

According to Bainbridge police, the woman was driving north on Highway 305 just after 1 p.m. March 17 and crashed her car into the ditch near Seabold United Methodist Church when another driver passed her 2003 Honda Pilot.

The woman told police she had been heading north when another vehicle came up behind her, and the Bainbridge woman thought the other driver was following too closely.

She said she tapped on her brakes three times to get the car behind her to slow down, but the other driver then moved into the southbound lane and tried to pass her in a no-passing zone.

The woman said she was startled when the other vehicle passed her and she then lost control and went off the road.

Witness accounts conflicted with the woman’s version of events, however.

The other driver, a 50-year-old Port Orchard man in a 2004 Chevrolet Impala, agreed that the crash was caused by road rage, but said it was the Bainbridge woman who had been at fault.

The man said he had been driving behind the Honda when it braked three times on the highway for no apparent reason.

He said he decided to pass the vehicle in front of him but when he did, the other driver sped up and tried to match his speed.

The man said the other driver then swerved at him as he attempted to pass, but he was able to avoid a collision.

He then said he saw the woman lose control of her vehicle after she swerved at him and went off the road and into the ditch.

A driver in a third car, a 45-year-old Tumwater man, who was also driving north told police he saw the first driver swerve into the other lane as the second driver was passing.

An officer spoke with the Bainbridge woman again and said her account of the crash did not match the story given by other witnesses. She did not deny speeding up or swerving at the other driver so he would not pass.

When a tow truck arrived to remove her Honda, the woman was given a vehicle impound notice. She then told police she started to lay on the horn with one hand while the other driver was passing her, and at that point she might have drifted toward the center line.

Still, she said she did not believe she crossed the line and accused the other driver of being aggressive and passing in a no-passing zone.

Police said the woman’s actions put both drivers at risk.

The report noted the Bainbridge woman’s actions were “done out of malice and without due regard for the safety of other drivers on the road and the safety of the passing driver.”

“Speeding up to keep a vehicle from being able to pass in a safe and timely manner causes a substantial risk of danger to oncoming traffic,” the officer wrote in a report on the incident, “and then a hard jerk toward the passing vehicle could have easily caused the accident to be more severe and could have caused serious bodily injury if she had struck the passing vehicle.”

Police said the skid marks stretched for approximately 300 feet from where she swerved into the other lane and then went off the road.

The only reason the woman wasn’t more seriously injured was because her vehicle happened to stay on all four tires and didn’t roll over, police noted.

The Honda was totaled in the crash, which stalled northbound traffic on Highway 305 for more than an hour as police investigated and a tow truck pulled the car from the embankment.

The woman did not have proof of insurance, and police forwarded possible charges of reckless driving and driving with a suspended license, third offense.

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