Report: Trooper’s speed caused November wreck; 94 mph reached just before crash

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Trooper Travis Beebe had accelerated to 94 mph on U.S. Highway 101 seconds before he lost control of his patrol car and caused a three-vehicle wreck in the Morse Creek curve east of Port Angeles on Nov. 29, the State Patrol said.

The agency’s Major Accident Investigation Team confirmed in Thursday’s report that excessive speed was the cause of the collision.

Beebe, 39, had previously accepted responsibility for the crash. He forfeited four vacation days, costing $1,200 to $1,400 in wages, and completed 40 hours of driver training.

No further sanctions will result from the report, the State Patrol said.

“The investigation didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know from Day 1,” said Sgt. Jason Hicks, State Patrol spokesman.

“This was just human error.

“He took the corner too hot and lost control.”

Beebe, a 17-year State Patrol veteran, was attempting to overtake a speeding vehicle that had passed him in the opposite direction when the collision occurred at 4:36 p.m.

Traveling westbound, Beebe had slowed to between 70 and 75 mph when he lost control of his 2011 Ford Crown Victoria. The posted speed limit in the area is 45 mph.

Beebe’s patrol car made a full clockwise rotation before colliding with two vehicles in the eastbound lanes at the apex of the curve at Strait View Drive, the investigation said.

The patrol car was traveling 27 mph when it crashed into a 2009 Honda CRV driven by Tigran Gyonjyan of Sammamish and 17 mph when it hit a 2011 Toyota Tundra driven by Dana Thompson of Sequim, the report found.

The collision involved seven other individuals — five passengers in the Honda SUV and two passengers in the Toyota truck. There were no serious injuries.

Although speed was initially believed to be a factor, detectives interviewed 15 third-party witnesses during a two-month investigation.

“Even though we were fairly certain what happened, I asked MAIT [the Major Accident Investigation Team] to make sure we fully understood everything,” said Capt. Chris Old, State Patrol District 8 commander, in a statement.

“When a trooper is involved in a collision, it’s important that we understand any and all factors that might be in play. In the end, this case is exactly what it appeared to be.”

Hicks said Thursday: “The only place it goes from here is a civil case that may come out of it.”

Gyonjyan, 34, retained Bellevue lawyer Yan Siprin, who told the Peninsula Daily News last month that he was investigating the wreck and would take “all appropriate legal actions as needed.”

Siprin was not available for comment Thursday.

No lawsuits had been filed by Gyonjyan — or against Beebe — in Washington state as of Thursday.

The wreck prompted a December protest against Beebe that drew 50 to 70 to the Clallam County Courthouse.

It was organized by the family of Forks resident Bjorn Larsen, 36, who died in a motorcycle wreck while he was being pursued by Beebe in May 2012.

The pursuit along Deer Park Road reached speeds of 90 mph and ended with both Larsen and Beebe going over an embankment.

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb contributed to this report.

Last modified: January 30. 2014 7:04PM
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