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Crash deja-vu for teacher

Captain Mike Cotton pours water on a car fire Monday morning that started when the car
Captain Mike Cotton pours water on a car fire Monday morning that started when the car's driver skidded off Brooks Hill Road and crashed into a ditch.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Coincidence has not been kind to Steve Jones during the past week.

Last Thursday, Jones, a teacher at Langley Middle School, was almost struck by a Jeep a teenage driver rolled in front of Jones' van on Brooks Hill Road near Langley.

Monday morning, on the same road, on the same curve, Jones came across another serious accident on his way to work. As he did Thursday, he jumped out of his vehicle to help.

Moments earlier, 18-year-old Christopher Casey had slammed his Mercury Cougar into a ditch after losing control at the apex of the curve. Langley resident Thomas Beard, who was driving in the same direction as Casey, said Casey passed him at a high rate of speed near the Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club.

On his way to drop his daughter off at school for band practice, Beard said he told her he was frightened by the pass.

"I said, 'I wouldn't be surprised to see him off the road,' " Beard said.

Rounding the corner, that is exactly what he saw. Stopping to help, Beard got to the car in time to pull Casey out and move him onto the roadway. Three minutes later, the car burst into flames.

Jones, who said he reacted on instinct when he saw his second serious car accident in two days, assisted Beard in moving Casey into the bed of his own pickup truck. He then drove the young man away from the burning car.

Casey later admitted to an Island County Sheriff's deputy that he was driving through the 40 mph curve at 65 mph He was cited.

Jones, who had already been shaken up by his near collision with Thursday's rollover accident, said he might be changing the route he takes to and from work. To see a second accident within four days on the same stretch of road was doubly frightening.

"It was kind of eerie," he said. "It makes you feel like kind of a jinx."

Making the events hit home even more was the fact that Jones had both Casey and the victim of Thursday's accident, 16-year-old Levon Arnold, as students. He said he could not help but stop.

Jones said he'd prefer not to see anything like these two accidents anytime in the future. It took "a couple days" for fright of the first accident to sink in, he said. After Monday, Jones said he felt numb.

"It's been quite a week for me," he said.

Casey was taken to Whidbey General Hospital to be treated for a fractured pelvis and collarbone. He was sent home Tuesday morning. The accident smashed and nearly incinerated Casey's car and killed a puppy in the car.

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