News

Two teens die in crash

The remains of a 1985 Honda Accord lie amid a Langley orchard’s plum blossoms on Third Street late Monday. - Jeff VanDerford
The remains of a 1985 Honda Accord lie amid a Langley orchard’s plum blossoms on Third Street late Monday.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

The South Whidbey community was devastated Monday by the tragic death of two South End teens in a one-car crash on Langley’s western edge.

Jayson M. Jelinek, 18, of Freeland and Kelly M. Frantz, 17, of Freeland died after the 1985 Honda Accord Jelinek was driving left the roadway and struck a tree on Third Street in Langley.

“I put Kelly on the bus at Ken’s Korner at 2:30 today, less than an hour later she is gone,” said Amy Frantz, Kelly Frantz’ mother.

Two other passengers — Miles L. Sanstad, 17 and Micah Q. Petrich, 17, of Freeland — were injured and were taken to area hospitals.

Sanstad was taken to Whidbey General Hospital in Coupeville by an aid unit after the accident. He was treated and released from Whidbey General Monday night, said hospital spokeswoman Trish Rose.

Petrich was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. As of Tuesday morning, he was listed in satisfactory condition, said Susan Gregg-Hanson, spokeswoman for the hospital.

Double-fatality accidents are rare on the South End, and many in the close-knit community were in shock at the news of the crash.

Langley Chief of Police Bob Herzberg said that many of the first emergency workers on the scene knew some of the victims by sight.

“This is an absolute tragedy for a small community like ours,” Herzberg said.

The gateway to Langley along Brooks Hill Road where it becomes Third Street is graced with tall flowering plum trees. Friends of the teens hurt and killed in the crash set up a memorial under the canopy of bright pink trees late Monday, and an impromptu vigil was held later that night.

When the road was reopened after several hours; students began gathering at the scene of the accident. Placed at the base of the trees were vases of flowers, teddy bears, candles and a photograph of one of the victims. Only the light from the flickering candles and the passing cars lighted the tragic scene.

“I hope she didn’t suffer, I hope she didn’t know what was happening to her,” Amy Frantz said as she stood at the accident scene.

“My twin is gone, now there is only one,” said Danielle Frantz, twin sister to Kelly Frantz.

Bianca Ramirez remembered her friend Kelly.

“We were together just last night. We hung out, and just had fun. Kelly was happy; we laughed a lot,” Ramirez said.

Word of the tragedy spread quickly through the community.

Petrich is currently a student at Bayview School, and the other three victims are former students in the South Whidbey School district; all three left school last year.

South Whidbey High School student Heather Nielson heard about the death of Jelinek, her former boyfriend, from friends.

“Friends started calling me right after it happened,” Nielson said.

“We had plans to get together for dinner Tuesday. I’ll never see him again,” Nielsen said.

The vigil at the scene of the crash continued on Tuesday with students and community members stopping by to comfort one another.

Candles, cards and more mementos were laid next to the tree that the driver before the Honda came to rest in a nearby field.

“So many of us knew them,” said Katie Watson, who went to middle school with the victims.

Lea Ryder, whose son Keith wrestled Miles Sanstad in middle school, delivered a bouquet of flowers to the scene. “My son was very upset at the news,” Ryder said. “We’re not immune to the ravages of drugs and alcohol on this small island. It’s so tragic; the best thing you can do is go home and hug your kid, thankful they’ve made the right decisions.”

The horrific crash is still under investigation. The Washington State Patrol identified the two teens killed in the accident in Langley Monday afternoon and released some preliminary details of the incident.

According to the State Patrol, Jelinek was driving west on Third Street when he lost control and hit a tree about 3:30 p.m. Monday.

Jelinek and Frantz died at the scene of the accident.

Third Avenue was blocked to traffic for more than three hours Monday as the State Patrol assisted Langley police in investigating the crash.

Witnesses said the car was leaving Langley at a high rate of speed before the accident.

“The car drifted to the right shoulder, or north part of the road, when the driver over-corrected to the left,” said State Trooper Jeff Beazizo. “He turned back, hit a cherry tree and spun counter-clockwise, hitting a second tree.”

Beazizo estimated the vehicle was traveling at least 70 mph. Third Street has a 25 mph speed limit along the stretch where the accident occurred.

Beazizo said a beer can was found on the ground outside the passenger door of the Honda and one victim had a plastic bag filled with what looked like marijuana.

“It will be at least 30 days before we get back a toxicology report from the county,” Beazizo said.

On Tuesday, the investigation continued in earnest.

The State Patrol is interviewing family, friends and witnesses, plus checking the victims’ background in order to develop a timeline to ascertain exactly how the accident happened.

A collision technician is also at work putting together the dynamics of the crash based on the evidence at the scene.

The State Patrol will also attempt to find out who gave the teen the alcohol and drugs.

“Hopefully, the survivors will be forthcoming, but without their help it will be difficult,” Beazizo said.

He also noted the overall increase in fatalities on Whidbey.

“People need to step back and take a long look at what their kids are up to. Teens think they’re invisible and can drive however they want with no consequences,” he said. “There are consequences, as we’ve seen. Parents really need to sit down with their children and discuss what happened and why.”

The community responded by reaching out to those affected by the tragedy.

The South Whidbey School District initiated its crisis response plan early Tuesday, beginning with staff notifications. District officials also considered postponing the WASL tests for students, but later decided to continue with the statewide learning assessment tests Tuesday as originally planned.

High school officials offered those who knew the victims the chance to postpone the test if they thought it would affect their performance.

Building administrators briefed their staffs on the tragedy before school yesterday.

Counselors were on hand Tuesday morning to assist students and staff at South Whidbey High School, Bayview School and Langley Middle School.

“Some students at the high school are working with counselors this morning. At Bayview School the mood is somber,” said Brian Miller, spokesman for the school district. “Counselors and staff are meeting with students.”

School district officials gathered at the accident scene shortly after the crash. Superintendent Bob Brown and Rich Parker, president of the board of education, met with Langley police and State Patrol officials.

Brown and other school officials then gathered at the district office Monday evening to contact staff and await for official identification of the teens from the county coroner’s office.

Memorial services had not been set before the Record’s press time Tuesday.

South Whidbey ASB President Andy Martin is organizing large sympathy cards students can sign and share their thoughts on the tragedy.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 23 edition online now. Browse the archives.