Family of victim in fatal wreck waits for answers

EVERETT — Sheena Blair looked her best before she left her Tacoma home Friday night to visit with friends.

“The last time I saw her she had a big smile on her face,” her father, Frank Blair, said Tuesday. She had her hair done and her makeup looked great.

Sheena Blair, 24, died Friday night along with her friend, Martin Antonio Ramirez, 19, also of Tacoma. The pair were killed by a suspected drunken driver who was headed the wrong way on Broadway under the 41st Street overpass.

Two other men, both 18, were in Blair’s car. One of them was Blair’s boyfriend. They remained Wednesday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in serious condition.

Police believe a Bothell woman, 28, was drunk and missed a turn before causing the crash. She wasn’t injured.

Detectives are investigating the crash as a potential vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. They sent the suspected drunken driver’s blood to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab to be tested. She was released after the crash and has not been charged.

Frank Blair on Tuesday praised Everett police officers.

“These officers saw my daughter and her friend dead in her car that night,” he said. “They take this case very seriously. The process is frustrating, but it’s the result that her mother and I care about.”

They hope the investigation will lead to a conviction and they understand that real-life police work takes longer than the 43 minutes it takes for crimes to be resolved on television shows.

Sheena Blair loved life, her father said. She loved music, the color blue and frogs.

She loved Mollie and Jake, her West Highland white terriers.

“She loved helping people,” Frank Blair said.

Sheena Blair was studying juvenile criminal justice and was planning a career working with incarcerated youth, he said.

“She gravitated to young people who were troubled and she wanted to help them get their lives straightened out so they wouldn’t die in prison or spend their life out on the street,” her father said.

She also loved Apolo Anton Ohno, the Olympic short-track speedskater. The night she died Ohno skated for a medal in Vancouver. Her father wanted her to know immediately when Ohno was disqualified in one of his last two races.

Frank Blair said he first became concerned when she didn’t return a text message about Ohno’s disqualification.

Blair stayed up until 1 a.m. as his worry grew more acute. He tried calling her but there was no answer.

At 4:45 a.m., there was a knock on the door, he said. It was Pierce County sheriff’s deputies with word of Sheena Blair’s death.

In dying, his daughter continued to help others, he said. Doctors were able to recover her organs and give them to patients in need.

She is survived by her father and mother, Carol Jones-Blair, and her adoring younger sister, Amy.

Everett officials now are analyzing the intersection where the crash occurred, said Dongho Chang, a city traffic engineer.

They’re looking to see if anything more could be done to prevent a future tragedy, he said.

The route taken by the suspected drunken driver already is marked with a flashing light, a “Do Not Enter” sign and “Wrong Way” signs, he said.

Crews checked and determined all signals were in place and working Friday night, Chang said.

He said this is the first wrong-way crash at that location in the three years he’s worked for the city.

The bridge the driver apparently missed was built around the time I-5 was constructed to take northbound traffic over the on- and offramps to the freeway, he said.

Frank Blair said that he hopes people in the community will think about his family and the other three families hurt by the drunken driving crash.

“We need to stop this,” he said. “What everybody is doing right now, it’s not working.”

He said he plans to lobby state lawmakers to re-examine how impaired drivers are treated under the law.

“I can sit in a dark room and immerse myself in hatred. That will devour us,” he said. “The alternative to that is to try to work to some kind of viable solution to the main issue here, and that’s drunk driving.”

Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437, jholtz@heraldnet.com.

Memorial planned

A memorial service for Sheena Blair is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., March 13 at the Church of All Nations, 111 112th Street East, Tacoma. People can make donations to the Sheena Blair Memorial Fund at any Key Bank.

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