by Julie Hall and Sarah Lane December 15, 2011
Based on a preliminary report released by the Bainbridge Island Police Department, during late afternoon rush hour on December 9 an eyewitness spotted a driver heading north on Ferncliff Avenue driving in a reckless manner, knocking over a row of mailboxes and driving into and out of a ditch. The witness, a taxi driver heading south on Ferncliff, called 911 on his cell phone and turned around to pursue the reckless driver.
According to the taxi driver, whose account was corroborated by other 911 callers witnessing the events, the driver in question continued on, making an illegal left turn on Madison Avenue and then turning north onto Highway 305. Continuing to pursue the vehicle, the taxi driver then observed the driver in question go into the ditch near Koura Road and again at Hidden Cove and continue to Seabold Church Road, where she crossed the center line and hit another driver head-on, ramming into the truck’s front bumper and sideswiping it. The hit driver called 911, while the reckless driver continued northward without stopping.
With Bainbridge Island police in pursuit but unable to catch up to the vehicle, a 2000 Hyundai Sonata, it crossed Agate Pass Bridge, and when near Cedar-Glen Park (across from Zero Gravity Athletics) it veered over the median and collided head-on with another vehicle. The passenger of the southbound vehicle, Jenna R. Carp, 50 years old from Bremerton, died at the scene. The driver of the struck vehicle, Michael S. Eischen, 49 from Port Orchard, suffered critical injuries and was airlifted to Harborview Hospital.
The driver of the vehicle that caused the accidents has been identified as Kim M. Yeager, 46, of Poulsbo. She also was airlifted to Harborview, where she remains in critical condition.
Washington State Police Officer Krista Hedstrom said there is evidence that Yeager was intoxicated at the scene of the accident, but the toxicology report confirming her blood alcohol level has not been released. According to Hedstrom, although there was probable cause to conduct a breathalizer test at the scene, paramedics took Yeager away before police could perform the test. Hedstrom is still investigating the case and has not yet determined whether a warrant for Yeager’s arrest will be issued. If she is found to have been intoxicated, she could be charged with vehicular homicide.
There was evidence on the roadway that Eischen, driving a 1993 Saturn SLI, attempted to steer away from Yeager’s oncoming Hyundai as far as possible, to no avail. Highway 305 was blocked for four hours following the collision.
Bradley Tatum, who works on Bainbridge Island, and his girlfriend witnessed the scene of the accident from their car as they were driving home. Tatum described what he saw: “It was a quick view, but we saw two cars crushed and ripped to pieces, and it looked as though they were totally blackened as well. We didn’t see enough to really put together details but enough to be shocked at the intensity of what just happened in the accident. The accident blocked the road entirely and cars were being rerouted around it.”
Read our April 24, 2012, followup article about this event: Driver in Deadly Bainbridge Island Rampage Facing Felony Charges.
Photos courtesy of Washington State Police and Sarah Lane.