Public utility district commissioner OK after single-car crash
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Clallam County PUD Commissioner Hugh Haffner’s 2009 Chevrolet Silverado sits in the woodpile where it came to a halt after Haffner drove off U.S. Highway 101 earlier this week.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Hugh Haffner, a Clallam County Public Utility District commissioner, was treated and discharged from Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles after driving his pickup truck off U.S. Highway 101 east of Sequim earlier this week.

State Patrol Trooper Eric Ellefson, who investigated the crash, said Haffner, 65, drove a 2009 Chevrolet Silverado off the westbound shoulder of the highway near Milepost 270 at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The car knocked over a road sign, went down a 10-foot embankment, crashed through a barbed-wire fence and came to a halt in a woodpile on the property of Rodney Erickson.

Haffner, who was returning from a meeting in Tacoma, was taken to the hospital as a precaution after he complained of a sore neck and back after the crash, Ellefson said.

The State Patrol has not determined a cause of the single-car wreck, Trooper Russ Winger, State Patrol spokesman, said Thursday.

Recovering at home Thursday, Haffner said he was OK, though his chest, back and neck were still “extremely sore.”

He said that upon his release from the hospital shortly after midnight following a series of tests, doctors said there was no indication he had suffered a medical problem such as a heart attack or stroke.

'It's really weird'

Haffner could not remember how it happened that he drove off the highway.

“I have no idea why my truck left the road there. It's really weird,” Haffner said. “I started to realize what was happening when I started going down the hill.”

He said he hit his head on the rearview mirror during the crash, cutting his ear.

Haffner said he received a CAT scan at the hospital, but doctors said he had not suffered a concussion.

“They said that sometimes when you have a traumatic hit like that, you don't always remember,” Haffner said.

Ellefson said at the scene that Haffner did not appear intoxicated and was not wearing a seat belt.

Haffner said Thursday that troopers told his wife, Diane, at the hospital that he would receive a ticket for leaving the roadway.

Haffner had not received a citation as of Thursday, Winger said.

“That'll sure wake you up,” said the homeowner, Erickson, after the crash. “I hope his insurance will pay for a couple of kids to come out and restack my wood.”

A four-term PUD commissioner, Haffner was elected president of the three-member nonprofit utility board at its Jan. 7 meeting.

Haffner was last re-elected to the commission in 2008.

He lives between Port Angeles and Sequim.

The PUD serves 30,000 customers with electrical, water, wastewater disposal and broadband services.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 24. 2013 5:58PM
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