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Investigation continues into fatal crash in Freeland

The investigation continues into why a 42-year-old Langley man was fleeing from police when his car went off the road in Freeland and struck a tree, killing him, officials said Thursday.

Meanwhile, a 28-year-old Clinton man was recovering from injuries Thursday when his car went off the road in Clinton and struck another tree on Tuesday night, according to the Washington State Patrol.

That unrelated incident is also under investigation, and intoxicants may have been involved, State Patrol spokesman Keith Leary said.

In Freeland, Richard Guinn died shortly before 3 a.m. this past Saturday after leading an Island County Sheriff’s Office deputy on a five-mile chase, Leary said.

He said the pursuit began when Guinn’s 2001 Mercury Marquis, traveling at high speed, barreled through a stop sign at an intersection. The deputy observed the incident and gave chase, suspecting a DUI in progress, Leary said.

He said pursuit at high speed continued for about five miles until Guinn’s car failed to negotiate a left turn while traveling west on Lancaster Road near Wahl Road, went off the roadway and struck a large fir tree. The driver was pinned in the vehicle, and apparently died on impact, Leary said.

Guinn was alone in the car, and may have been intoxicated, Leary said.

“I’m not sure why he was running from police, but it wasn’t the best decision,” he said.

Island County Sheriff’s Det. Ed Wallace said that officers learned after the chase that Guinn was a suspect in a domestic violence incident earlier that night.

Wallace said Guinn’s girlfriend had sustained injuries and was being treated at Whidbey General Hospital at the time of the crash. The investigation continues into the possible assault.

Meanwhile, in the Tuesday incident, Leary said Ian Ellis was driving a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am traveling east on Surface Road near Ken’s Korner at high speed when the car failed to negotiate a curve, left the road and hit a tree.

The accident, reported shortly after 9:30 p.m., caused Ellis, who was alone in the car, to be ejected from the vehicle, said Deputy Chief Mike Cotton of Island County Fire District 3, which also responded to the incident.

Ellis was taken by medical airlift to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for treatment. A hospital official said Thursday that Ellis had been taken out of intensive care and that his condition was listed as satisfactory.

Leary blamed the crash on excessive speed and possibly driving under the influence, and said that charges may be filed.

“We’re thankful this person is still alive,” Leary said, “but if impairment is involved, it’s a hard lesson to learn.”

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