By Rikki King and Eric Stevick Herald Writers
SEATTLE — Robert Bentz spends his life working and raising his four sons. Once he gets out of the hospital, that’s what he’ll go back to doing.
Bentz, 45, and his son, Roudy, 16, were in his pickup truck Thursday when they were struck head-on by a man driving a stolen car on U.S. 2. The other driver died.
On Tuesday, Bentz was surrounded by family and friends as he shared details of the collision. The Snohomish-area man hurt his spine and has his jaw wired shut, among other injuries. He remains at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
He recalled yanking the steering wheel to put himself between the oncoming car and his son. “It was pointed right at Roudy,” he said.
Then there was the collision, and his truck started to roll.
“I went out after that,” he said. He woke up on the ground, surrounded by emergency crews, missing several of his teeth, unaware how badly he was hurt.
His actions may have spared Roudy serious injuries. The teen hurt his arm, and still has bruises and the scabs from road rash and cuts.
He needs a new cast on his right arm before he can return to Monroe High School, where he’s a junior. “I lost a big chunk of flesh, and it tore a tendon,” he said.
Bentz, a single father, said his bosses at Universal Land Construction, of Woodinville, have promised him his job back when he gets better.
The crash was the first of three serious collisions on U.S. 2 in Snohomish County within the past week.
The crash that hurt the Bentzes also took the life of Sean P. Vessey, 24, of Everett. Vessey was westbound in a stolen black Honda when he crossed the center line and struck the Bentzes’ pickup truck, according to the Washington State Patrol. Vessey was flown by helicopter to Harborview, where he died.
Vessey had previous convictions in Snohomish County for auto theft. He completed a drug court diversion program earlier this year that led to the dismissal of similar charges, according to court papers.
Bentz knows he faces a long recovery, but he’s glad he’s still going to be around for his boys, Roudy, Ryan, 20, Rick, 18 and Harley, 7. Harley’s birthday is next month.
“Everything’s not short-term anymore,” Bentz said.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.
People can donate to help Robert Bentz and his family at any Wells Fargo branch. Bentz was struck by another driver on U.S. 2 on Thursday and remains hospitalized. His son, Roudy, who also was injured, describes him as a hard-working, strong and loving father.