(Editor’s note: earlier versions of this story appeared on the Methow Valley News Facebook page; it has been updated based on information available this week.)
The July 18 automobile accident in which Winthrop resident Kierra Reichert died and Twisp resident Caitlyn Cooley was severely injured remains under investigation by the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office.
The one-car rollover accident occurred on Twisp River Road late that Tuesday evening, according to the Sheriff’s Office report. Both of the women were passengers. Also in the car were two men: the driver, who was also severely injured, and a third passenger who was examined by Aero Methow Rescue Service at the scene and released.
Reichert, 19, had been a passenger in the back seat of the car and was not wearing a seat belt, Okanogan County Undersheriff Dave Yarnell told the Methow Valley News. The other three people in the car were in their 20s, he said. The Sheriff’s Office did not release the names of the two men. Based on addresses from their driver’s licenses, the driver is an Oroville resident and the other man is from southern Okanogan County, Yarnell said.
Reichert was airlifted from the scene of the accident to Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster, according to Okanogan County Coroner Dave Rodriguez. She was pronounced deceased at the hospital, Rodriguez told the News.
The two people with injuries — Cooley and the driver — were taken to Three Rivers Hospital and then transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Yarnell said.
Cooley had been discharged from Harborview as of Monday morning (July 24), according to a hospital spokesperson. There were no further details about her condition nor about the driver’s condition as of press time.
Alcohol is suspected as a contributing factor in the accident, based on preliminary field-sobriety testing of the driver and information from the hospital, Yarnell said. The accident is being investigated as a vehicular homicide, he said.
The accident occurred on Twisp River Road about 4.5 miles west of town. It was reported to dispatch at about 11:30 p.m., Yarnell said.
The speed limit on that section of road is 50 miles per hour, but there is a sharp corner with a much lower recommended speed limit, Yarnell said. From preliminary investigations, it appears that the driver failed to negotiate the curve and that the 2009 Toyota Camry struck a tree and flipped before coming to a rest, he said.
Okanogan County Sheriff deputies are investigating, with assistance from the Washington State Patrol (WSP), which has taken measurements at the collision site, Yarnell said. The car has been impounded and will be part of the investigation, which requires a search warrant, he said.
WSP investigators take measurements and sometimes use a drone to determine how an accident happened, down to the square inch, WSP Trooper Jeremy Weber told the News. It can take months before an investigation is completed, he said.
Once the investigation is complete, it will be referred to the Okanogan County prosecutor, Yarnell said.