Although the crash itself is largely a blank in her mind, Coupeville resident Amanda Stanwood vividly remembers the terror just prior to the unavoidable head-on collision and the frightening aftermath as she and her daughter were trapped inside their crushed minivan.
But traumatic as it was — and although it has had difficult financial repercussions — Stanwood said she’s been overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude as friends and neighbors have rallied to help and by the knowledge that she and her daughter walked away relatively unscathed from a collision that could have been fatal.
The account has accumulated more than $2,500 already; it can be found by searching “Help the Stanwoods” on the site.
Stanwood explained that she relied on the minivan to drive her daughter, Lillian, to competitive soccer practice off the island and tournaments around the state.
“It’s one thing that really makes her happy and she is passionate about,” Stanwood said.
They were returning from practice Thursday afternoon when the accident occurred on Highway 20 in the Dugualla Bay Area.
The Washington State Patrol reported that 32-year-old Anthony Palumbo of Coupeville was driving a 2020 Jeep Cherokee north on the highway when he crossed the centerline for an unknown reason. His vehicle struck Stanwood’s Toyota Sienna head-on. A Ford Econoline struck Palumbo’s vehicle, which flipped over.
Palumbo was airlifted to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett for treatment. Stanwood and a passenger in the Econoline were transported to WhidbeyHealth Medical Center.
Stanwood said it was just a normal day until she saw the Jeep Cherokee cross into her lane. She expected it to return to the other lane, but it never did. She steered her minivan as far off the road into the guard rail to try to evade the coming crash.
“It happened so fast and it happened so slow,” she said, adding that she remembers taking a deep breath just prior to the crash.
Everything is a blank, she said, until she remembers hearing Lillian yelling, asking what happened.
Stanwood looked in the rearview mirror and saw that her face was covered in blood. They both realized that they were trapped inside.
As frightening as it was, Stanwood said she also realized that the passenger side of the vehicle, where her daughter was sitting, was spared from the damage that totaled the minivan.
“I think God had wrapped her in magic bubble wrap,” she said.
It seemed like every fire truck on the island showed up. A firefighter named Steve spoke to her soothingly and explained everything that was happening, she said.
“He made me feel so safe in the scariest moment of my life,” she said.
Stanwood suffered cuts on her face, neck and legs. Lillian had a laceration on her stomach and a small cut on her foot. It could have been so much worse.
“It should have killed me,” she said, “but I walked away with my life and my daughter.”
Stanwood said replacing the van would be difficult for her family of four that gets by on a modest income. Her insurance company indicated that there is little that can be done to recoup costs since Palumbo was uninsured.
Fortunately, the community has helped in many ways, from lending the family a car to donating money to dropping off food to offering well wishes.
“My community, my tribe that I didn’t even realize I had, has stepped up,” she said. “I’m learning that I have to allow people to love me and to help me.”