WSP to recommend charges in Valentine’s Day fatal crash

State police are recommending a South Whidbey woman face criminal charges for her role in a fatal two-car crash in February.

Trooper Mark Francis, a Washington State Patrol spokesman, confirmed late Thursday that detectives are wrapping up their investigation of the collision and expect to formally forward a referral to the Island County Prosecutor’s Office sometime next week. It will recommend that Clinton resident Michelle Nichols, 46, be charged with vehicular homicide in the death of Timothy Keil, a 61-year-old Freeland man, the officer said.

Nichols was allegedly under the influence during the Valentine’s Day crash that resulted in Keil’s death, according to the state patrol.

Attempts to reach Nichols by telephone and via Facebook Friday for this story were unsuccessful.

Details and findings of the agency’s investigation, however, are not yet available. Police investigations are not disclosable under state records laws until they are formally complete, and that doesn’t happen until the referral is sent to prosectors, Francis said.

Also, it’s up to the prosecutor’s office to decide whether or not to press charges.

Nichols was southbound on Highway 525 at about 8:40 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, when she lost control near the intersection of Coles Road, according to a state patrol press memo released after the collision. The 1988 Ford van she was driving hit the guard rail on the right side of the road, before swerving across the centerline and into the northbound lane striking Keil’s 1993 Honda Accord.

Keil, 61, was pronounced dead at the scene, and Nichols was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries.