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Injuries minor in rollover
A customized lift kit and oversized tires were the difference between a rollover accident and staying upright Tuesday afternoon for several South Whidbey teens.
The high center of gravity of a 4-by-4 vehicle sent it rolling where almost no other car would have, and has its owner thinking about something a little lower for his next car.
Adam Jennings, 17, of Langley, and two friends escaped serious injury in the accident, which occurred about 2:30 p.m. on Highway 525 near Crawford Road when Jennings' 1989 Jeep Cherokee rolled onto its top. Jennings told law officers he swerved to miss a slowing vehicle in front of him, his vehicle skidded and rolled over.
It also taught Jennings a hard lesson.
"I won't be adding a lift kit to my next car," Jennings said. "I think it will be a car with a low center of gravity, like a BMW."
In the vehicle with Jennings were Christine Huffine and Amy Madrigali, both 15.
Jennings said it was a terrifying experience for the three students. "I was awake and aware of what was happening the entire time," he said "We are lucky to just have cuts and bruises."
Jennings said his mother, Paula Jennings, was on her way home from work when she came upon his overturned car.
"It was awful for her, very scary for her," Jennings said.
She pulled over and stayed with her son while medics prepared him for transport to Whidbey General Hospital.
The Jeep, fitted with a customized 4-inch lift kit and oversized, 33-inch tires skidded and rolled squashing the car's roof. Large stereo speakers and homework papers were strewn outside the vehicle after the accident.
"The ultimate problem for Jennings was the lift kit and tires. It gave the vehicle a high profile and high center of gravity. A vehicle without the high profile would have skidded and just spun around," said Island County deputy Lane Campbell.
"Thankfully they weren't seriously injured. All three were wearing seatbelts."
The occupants were treated for minor scrapes and bruises at Whidbey General Hospital and released the same day.
Jennings told Island County Sheriff deputies that the car in front of him slowed and forced him to brake which sent him into a sideway skid prior to flipping.
A large mark in the highway indicates the beginning of the skid, then the vehicle rolled and skidded more on the roof of the car before coming to a stop half on the shoulder and half in the northbound lane.
Washington State Patrol has jurisdiction over traffic on Highway 525. Trooper Kevin Nelson said the accident is still under investigation.