Three people airlifted Wednesday following South Whidbey accident

A helicopter takes off to transport patients to a hospital following a roll over collision on Highway 525 Wednesday. Nobody suffered life-threatening injuries.

Three people were airlifted Wednesday from a section of Highway 525 after a two-car collision.

State police identified those involved as Oak Harbor residents Deborah Tennuchi, 43, and Darcy Zook, 56, and Greenbank resident Frank Roberts, 91. The three were taken to two different hospitals: Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and Colby in Everett.

Both Tennuchi and Zook suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Tennuchi was released from Harborview Thursday morning. Zook remains in the hospital, and is expected to be released Friday afternoon.

A hospital official said Roberts is in stable condition but remains in intensive care after suffering broken ribs and a broken clavicle. He is set to be released from intensive care, not the hospital, Thursday afternoon.

The collision occurred at the intersection of Highway 525 and Midvale Road in Clinton around 2:30 p.m. Tennuchi and Zook were in a red 2000 Volkswagen Jetta waiting to turn left from the northbound lane onto Midvale Road when their vehicle was struck from behind, said Washington State Patrol Sgt. Mark Francis. Their car was hit by a white Ford F-150 pickup truck driven by Roberts.

Langley resident Randy Higgins, who was an eyewitness to the accident, confirmed the Volkswagen was rear ended by the pickup truck.

The truck came to rest on its side in the ditch along the northbound lane, and the Volkswagen in the ditch on the other side of the highway. The Volkswagen was heavily damaged in the crash, and Tennuchi was trapped inside; firefighters used Jaws of Life to free her from the twisted wreckage.

“We had a lengthy extrication of one patient in the red vehicle,” South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chief Jon Beck said. “She was trapped in the ditch in the driver’s seat.”

Despite the apparent severity of the crash, Francis said the two women were airlifted largely as a precautionary measure. While it’s rare to do so for non-life-threatening injuries, he said, the decision was made because the women reported feeling “numbness” and one of them had a previous medical condition of particular concern.

“They [Tennuchi] had sensation issues related to past spine and neck surgeries,” Francis said.

In an interview Friday, Tennuchi said she suffered a broken clavicle, a concussion and whiplash in the incident. Zook suffered shredded neck ligaments, “multiple sprains” and a damage to her ear that caused vertigo. They are seeking legal advice.

Both lanes of Highway 525 were closed for up to two and a half hours. They were opened around 5 p.m.

The wreck is still under investigation and no citations have been issued.


In a previous version of the story, it was incorrectly stated who was released from the hospital.