Driver arrested following fatal crash

A hit-and-rush accident in Oak Harbor on June 5 claimed the life of a 20-year-old woman.

A hit-and-rush accident in Oak Harbor on June 5 claimed the life of a 20-year-old woman.

Police identified the victim as Anna N. Albert. She was a student at Whatcom Community College and was on her way to visit her mother, who works at Crescent Harbor Elementary, according to the coroner’s office.

The man accused of causing the crash, 33-year-old Travis R. Loetterle, ran from the scene and hid in the woods, but turned himself into police about 12 hours later, according to court documents.

Albert is the sixth person to die in a traffic accident on Whidbey in the last nine weeks. The crash is also the third alleged fatal hit-and-run crash on the island in that time. It’s an unprecedented number in such a timespan, according to police.

Loetterle appeared in Island County Superior Court Thursday. Judge Christon Skinner found probable cause existed to believe he may have committed the crimes of vehicular homicide and “hit and run from an accident resulting in death.”

Deputy Prosecutor David Carman requested that Loetterle be held on $250,000 bail, pointing out that the defendant has extensive criminal history involving vehicle-related charges and other crimes. The crash was the third collision Loetterle was involved in during the last eight months.

The judge agreed and set Loetterle’s bail at the recommended amount.

According to a detective’s report, the collision was reported at 2:34 p.m. on East Crescent Harbor Road near the intersection of Western Drive. The report indicates that Loetterle was driving a Ford F250 truck on the road, which is “completely straight” for miles, and drove across the centerline, striking Albert’s Toyota Highlander head-on.

Loetterle allegedly fled the scene. First responders extricated Albert, who was trapped in the SUV, and transported her to the hospital, but she succumbed to her injuries.

Albert’s dog was injured in the crash. The dog underwent emergency surgery and is recovering, according to police.

The truck that Loetterle was driving belonged to a woman he had been dating, according to the detective’s report. The woman said she allowed him to use her truck in the past, but this time he did so without asking. She said he was addicted to fentanyl and was scheduled to go to detox on June 6. She showed the detective text messages she received from Loetterle in which he said he was hiding and asked her to bail him out if he was arrested, the report states.

Loetterle totaled another vehicle belonging to the woman in April, the detective wrote.

The woman brought Loetterle to the police department several hours later, and he confessed, the report states. He told the detective that he was driving to get gas for a weedeater but couldn’t remember much because he hit his head. He said he remembered waking up in the woods, the report states. He called the woman and his mother to come get him.

The detective noted that Loetterle didn’t have visible injuries to his head, the report states.

Loetterle initially denied taking any drugs that day but later said he used fentanyl and Klonopin at his mother’s house after he was picked up in the woods, the report states. The detective wrote that she believed he was trying to cover for drugs that a blood test would show was in his system.