Thief takes $900 from woman who gave aid after wreck

EVERETT — Peggy Ray watched in horror Saturday afternoon as a white car ahead of her flew off I-5 between Everett and Marysville.

The Marysville soccer mom, 39, didn’t hesitate to offer a helping hand.

She hurdled a barbed-wire fence to reach the Toyota Camry.

The car was smoking and she feared it might catch fire as she joined others who stopped to give the neatly-dressed Kirkland couple aid until medics could arrive.

The driver, 74, and his passenger, 69, were taken to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and are expected to survive.

Ray, a Starbucks Coffee Co. manager, helped break out a window, cutting her hand on shattered glass. The former nursing student managed to get into the back seat and kept the passenger’s neck still after the woman complained of soreness. Ray asked her questions to make sure the woman didn’t lose consciousness. She tried to bring calm to a terrifying situation.

After medics arrived, Ray climbed the embankment to her car parked on the shoulder. She figured she still could make it to her 13-year-old daughter’s soccer game.

The Good Samaritan was in for a shock.

Inside her car was an empty envelope. It had contained $900 in rent money she had just withdrawn from an Everett bank.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” Ray said.

Left behind was a bank receipt showing she had withdrawn the cash at 12:11 p.m.

She immediately reported the theft to a Washington State Patrol trooper on the scene.

The trooper took note, writing in his memo: “Good Samaritan stopped to assist and had a large sum of money stolen from her vehicle.”

Ron and Linda Wright witnessed the accident and offered help.

The Marysville couple watched the northbound Toyota accelerate, drift across three lanes and strike a pickup. The car then went airborne off the highway — “like something out of the Dukes of Hazard” — and ended up in a drainage ditch, Linda Wright said.

Troopers believe the driver might have had a medical problem before losing control of his car.

The people were trapped inside.

She called 911 as her husband held open the car door so Ray could get inside.

Linda Wright was impressed watching Ray spring into action.

“She jumped over a four-strand barbed-wire fence like a gazelle,” she said.

Wright was dismayed when she heard Ray report the theft to the trooper.

“She was kind of in a state of shock,” she said. “She was just holding this empty envelope. She had tears in her eyes.”

After the collision, there were roughly 20 people who had pulled over to assist, trooper Keith Leary said.

“It takes a person with a big heart and the awesome willingness to render assistance to someone they don’t know,” Leary said. “She could have just driven by and not stopped.”

Neither Ray nor Wright know who took the money.

They both said they would be interested to learn more about a man who initially offered help at the crash scene. Ray said he told her he had to go as soon as he heard the approaching sirens.

“He just vanished,” Wright said.

With muddy pants, Ray made it to her daughter’s game shortly before halftime.

In hindsight, she realizes she didn’t lock her car and left her keys and purse behind when she rushed into action.

She said she was driven by instinct, adrenaline and a desire to help.

The State Patrol is investigating the theft as well as the accident.

“The person who entered this lady’s vehicle and stole the money should be ashamed of themselves,” Leary said

Troopers are asking anyone who witnessed the collision, or who has knowledge of the theft, to call 360-654-1204.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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