Sticky money causes ferry scare

Concerns about money, thought by a Clinton ferry dock worker to be contaminated with poison, brought terrorism-wary law enforcement to the dock in force Friday.

The scare was a false alarm, but a call for help from the dock was enough to draw the Washington State patrol to investigate and emergency medical personnel to respond to the afternoon incident.

According to the State Patrol, a ticket seller on the Clinton dock developed a rash and was concerned he was having an allergic reaction to something toxic. He had collected a fare from three men in a van about 3 p.m. and developed a rash on his palm and arm shortly thereafter, State Ferries spokeswoman Susan Harris-Huether said Tuesday. The ticket seller then called the State Patrol to report the circumstances surrounding the rash, she said.

State Patrol troopers responded from Mukilteo by walking on the ferry and riding to Whidbey Island. Island County Sheriff's personnel also responded, though briefly, to the scene.

When questioned by troopers, the ticket seller said the money he collected from the three men earlier felt sticky.

"He sells a lot of tickets, so something about that particular vehicle and its occupants stood out in his mind," Harris-Huether said.

The ticket seller was taken to Whidbey General Hospital and put in quarantine while he was tested. Two blood tests given at the hospital did not lead to a connection between the money and the rash.

"We're not sure what caused the reaction. There is no way of knowing what contributed to it," Harris-Huether said.

She said the ticket seller's booth was closed until test results came back from the hospital, and the dock supervisor put all the money from that worker's booth in a plastic bag.

State troopers delayed taking action until the tests were completed.

"We did respond, but there wasn't enough information until the medical tests were in," said State Patrol spokesman Lance Ramsay.

Law officers were on the case for about two hours, but ferries continued to run on schedule.

The employee who reported the incident was back at work on Sunday. State Ferries declined to release the worker's name.

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