2019: A year of news and happenings on South Whidbey


l Firefighters spent nearly 10 hours putting out a fire that damaged much of an unoccupied, 7,000-square-foot Shore Avenue house.

l Greenbank resident John Meadows, 42, shot and killed 32-year-old Freeland resident Natasha Blouin, then himself, after assaulting and abducting her during a child custody dispute. Their 10-month-old baby was found in the backseat and was unharmed.

l Everett resident Marc Drake, 63, was killed piloting an experimental aircraft that crashed near Whidbey Airpark in Langley. Passenger Donna Depaoli was seriously injured.

l Langley resident Virgina Nelson, 80, was struck by a car and killed trying to cross Highway 525.

l Family members of murder victim Kathie Ann Hill filed court documents to legally remove her husband’s name from hers. Robert “Al” Baker was convicted of murdering her at their Greenbank home in 2013. A superior court judge later honored the request.

l South Whidbey resident Christopher Locken was sentenced to nine years in prison for trying to force himself into a stranger’s house and threatening her with a sword.


l The state attorney general’s office dismissed a civil action to classify former South Whidbey resident Donald Herrick as a sexually violent predator. He had been convicted of raping a Scatchet Head woman in her home in 1997.

l Deputies with the Island County Sheriff’s Office recovered $30,000 worth of stolen silver coins, $10,000 worth of stolen jewelry and a stolen handgun after finding the suspect passed out in a car at Ken’s Korner.

l Lawyers for Whidbey Island residents filed a federal lawsuit against companies that made chemicals that contaminated wells.

l South Whidbey voters overwhelmingly supported two school district levies.

l Snow storm canceled school, kids made snow people.

l A judge sentenced Michelle Nichols to more than 10 years in prison for a 2015 DUI-related crash that killed well-known South Whidbey resident Timothy Keil.

l School administrators received 15 percent salary increases, leading to criticism from some in the community.


l Educational materials were destroyed in a fire at Leonard Good’s workshop.

l Puget Sound Express took over gray whale tours out of Langley when Mystic Sea pulled anchor after 28 years.

l The Navy announced a decision that means a fourfold increase in the amount of EA-18G Growler practice at Outlying Field Coupeville.

l WhidbeyHealth CEO Geri Forbes announced her retirement amid concerns about the hospital district’s finances. The board gave her a bonus. She later resigned before her retirement date.

l Bigfoot was spotted on South Whidbey.


l The Langley City Council reversed a decision and restored a leash law at Seawall Park.

l A middle school student was charged with a crime after distributing nude photos of female students. He later pleaded guilty and received a deferred sentence.

l Parents and teachers lashed out at the school board over a range of issues.

l May

A black bear swam to Coupeville and then headed north.

l Ron Telles was named as WhidbeyHealth CEO.

l Shannon Brown pleaded guilty to stealing more than $125,000 while she was a bookkeeper for Langley business Artisan Crafted. She was later sentenced to 17 months in prison.

l A man sustained severe burns in a house fire in rural Clinton.


l Navy officials asked pilots for reports about UFOs.

l Concern grew after aggressive deer attacked people and killed a dog and a cat in different areas of the island.

l Island County’s development regulations for Freeland were finally adopted after a decade of work.


l Brett Higgins was killed when his motorcycle collided with an SUV.

l The state attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit against the Navy over the increase in EA-18G Growler flights at Outlying Field Coupeville.

l Skagit Valley College announced plans to close the South Whidbey Center.

l Neil’s Clover Patch closed after 36 years in business.

l Gov. Jay Inslee visited Whidbey to talk about the environment.

l Don Lauer was named as the new police chief in Langley.


l Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson announced she will run for the state senate.

l The Langley City Council adopted new rules on short-term rentals after more than a year of discussion and research.

l WhidbeyHealth officials settled an age discrimination lawsuit with a surgeon for $1.5 million.

l Whidbey Environmental Action Network celebrated three decades of work protecting the island.

l Three people were airlifted after a head-on collision on Highway 525.

l Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks apologized for comments on his personal Facebook page about President Donald Trump and his supporters. He said some posts went to far.


l Damian Green, a board member for South Whidbey Schools, was among four Whidbey residents who asked to be considered for a state senate appointment after Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, quit. North Whidbey resident Ron Muzzall later received the appointment.

l Snohomish County reached a $3.1-million settlement with the family of South Whidbey resident Piper Travis, who died in the county’s jail.

Students organized a protest to address climate change.

Justin Jacobs was arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman and a teenager in Clinton. Investigators found he was wanted in three states.

Shawn Cavanah died from injuries he sustained in a Greenbank house fire.


Firefighters rescue a horse stuck in mud.

Island Senior Resources opens Leo’s Place, an intergenerational dining hall.

Langley resident Rick Foxworthy was injured when his airplane crashed at Whidbey Airpark, but he escaped before it started on fire.

A hunter walking in a Greenbank woods discovered the remains of Lagoon Point resident Carl Jesberg, who disappeared in 2000.


Nichols Brothers expanded its ship repair service to Everett.

Melanie Bacon, the county’s human resources director, announced she will run for county commissioner.

In the general election, newcomer Craig Cyr won a seat on the Langley City Council and newcomer Brook Willeford won a seat on the school board. They both beat incumbents. Langley voters approve a $4-million bond for improvements to the water, sewer and stormwater systems. The county agreed to give the city a $3-million grant if the measure passed.

Langley leaders consider a portable potty project.

Disparities in precinct-level election results were discovered, but the final tallies were accurate, the county Auditor’s Office reported.

The search started for Tank, a service dog that disappeared at a home near South Whidbey State Park. The family hired a specialized search team and spiritualists, but the black lab was not found.

Langley leaders increase utility rates.

A rabbit illness hops to the island.

Plans materialize for an alternative high school on South Whidbey.


Twin 4-year-old girls hiked up an embankment in the dark after a car crash on Bob Galbreath Road. They sought help for their father, Corey Simmons, but he did not survive the accident. Their story made national news.

Actor Eddie Redmayne was spotted visiting South Whidbey.

Clinton resident Jeffrey McCord pleaded guilty to child molestation and child pornography charges and was sentenced to a minimum of eight years in prison.

2019: A year of news and happenings on South Whidbey
2019: A year of news and happenings on South Whidbey