A Port Angeles man was critically injured in a motorcycle accident on Thursday, February 27 on Highway 104 after police say a car merged into his lane and caused him to lose control.
News reports say that 71-year-old Phillip Charles Jr. was listed in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle following the collision. He was reportedly traveling eastbound on state Highway 104 near the junction of US Highway 101 at approximately 1 p.m. when an oncoming vehicle entered his lane to pass a vehicle in its own lane.
Charles was reportedly riding behind a fellow motorcyclist, identified as 57-year-old Randal D. Miller of Port Angeles, when the vehicle attempted to pass. Miller was able to avoid the car, but Charles lost control of his bike while trying to avoid a collision. Charles was immediately airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to be treated for serious injuries.
WSP Provides Details on Circumstances of Crash
Trooper Russ Winger who is part of the State Patrol explained Charles’ condition to news reporters, as well as what may have made this crash more complicated than it first appeared.
“We are not expecting it to be fatal, but [Charles suffered] serious injuries,” Winger said. “It’s legal to pass in that area. You have to do it safely.”
Even though the vehicle that was involved in the crash did not actually hit either motorcycle, it is believed that the sudden decrease of speed happened so quickly that it at least partially caused Charles to lose control.
“The car appeared to make an unsafe pass, though it occurred in an area of the highway where passing is technically legal,” Winger added.
Investigation Will Help Determine Liability for Injuries
The crash site and collision is under investigation. As Winger has hinted at, the circumstances of the vehicle’s decision to attempt a pass will be a priority for investigators to identify.
If investigators determine that the vehicle did make an unsafe lane change, then the driver will likely be cited with an infraction for an unsafe lane change. The driver could also be held liable for the injuries that Charles suffered in the crash.
As is the case in many collisions, troopers may eventually ask for witnesses to step forward to help answer some unknown questions. If you or someone you know was a witness to this accident, please contact the Washington State Patrol at (206) 720-3040.