Photo courtesy of plaintiffs’ attorneys                                A Ford Fusion and a Mitsubishi Eclipse collided on Highway 522 in 2014. Three people were killed.

Photo courtesy of plaintiffs’ attorneys A Ford Fusion and a Mitsubishi Eclipse collided on Highway 522 in 2014. Three people were killed.

State pays $3M to settle lawsuit over deaths on Highway 522

The plaintiffs represent the families of three people who were killed in a head-on crash in 2014.

MONROE — Stanley and Joan Kinger were leaving their daughter’s house in Monroe.

They’d brought lemon cookies and fresh-caught fish to share. Their daughter, Lynn Wood, installed software on their laptop so they could video-chat with a pregnant granddaughter in Alaska.

On the way home, the Kingers’ vehicle was struck head-on while traveling Highway 522, near Fales Road. The Kingers, both in their 70s, died from their injuries, as did Isabella Bednarski, the other driver’s baby girl. That was in 2014.

On Feb. 22, a Snohomish County court commissioner approved a $3 million settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Washington State Department of Transportation. The families of the deceased alleged the stretch of the highway involved was “inherently dangerous” and needed median barriers. The state said the roadway was safe, and pointed to funding challenges with the Legislature.

In the settlement, the state did not admit liability and the plaintiffs ended their suit, canceling a June trial. Each family’s estate will receive $1.5 million before legal fees.

WSDOT declined to comment for this story.

Joan and Stanley Kinger (Family photo)

Joan and Stanley Kinger (Family photo)

Keith Kessler, who represented the Kingers’ estate, provided a statement Thursday via email.

“While it’s true that we have settled our claims against the state on behalf of the Kinger family, they remain upset that the hazard of fatal cross-over collisions continues unabated,” he said. “They are actively participating in the Finish 522 campaign to persuade legislators and (the state) to expand the middle section of 522 and add the jersey barrier that was planned out several years ago. They feel that otherwise their parents’ deaths were in vain.”

Wood, the daughter, says she has to drive past the scene on her way to work.

“The road is still unsafe,” she said in a prepared statement. “I have personally witnessed three accidents close to where my parents were killed, and I have seen skid marks from other accidents.”

Isabella Rose Bednarski (Family photo)

Isabella Rose Bednarski (Family photo)

Until 2003, Highway 522 was two lanes starting east of Highway 9 and into Monroe. Since then, the state has undertaken a long-term plan to widen the length of it to four lanes, with median barriers. The work is getting done in phases. About two-thirds is completed but not in the area of the 2014 fatalities.

The #Finish522 coalition, which includes civic, business and political leaders, is seeking state funds to finish the last piece, a three-mile stretch from Paradise Lake Road to the Snohomish River where the highway is reduced to two lanes. The project also includes designing a new intersection at Paradise Lake Road.

It’s estimated $160 million is needed for all the work.

The state says the stretch of highway in question was “in reasonably safe condition for ordinary travel.” The plaintiffs say it was “inherently dangerous.” (Washington State Department of Transportation)

The state says the stretch of highway in question was “in reasonably safe condition for ordinary travel.” The plaintiffs say it was “inherently dangerous.” (Washington State Department of Transportation)

Thus far, the Legislature has provided $750,000 to get initial design work going for the intersection. Another $10 million is earmarked from a previous transportation package. But the money will not be available until 2025 and will not be enough to cover final project design, environmental work, right-of-way acquisition and construction.

Coalition members are working to get access to the $10 million sooner to speed up the project. They are expected to return to Olympia in late March.

For now, Highway 522 has rumble strips between opposite lanes along the section near Fales Road.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield contributed to this story.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the Cascade Range and Olympic Mountains on Wednesday. (Provided by the National Weather Service)
Red flag warning issued for eastern Snohomish County through Wednesday

The National Weather Service says critical fire conditions are either imminent or occurring now.

Traffic camera shows Everett and Marysville firefighters on the scene of a crane accident along northbound I-5 near milepost 198 Tuesday evening. (Provided photo)
Two workers fall from I-5 bridge Tuesday evening

The workers were in a “cherry picker” type bucket when it tipped over. One man fell 60 feet into the water and was taken to the hospital.

Lynnwood
Everett motorcyclist dies on Highway 99

Alexis Hernandez Cerritos was riding south on Highway 99 when a car driving north turned in front of him.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett’s rival minimum wage proposals: Second group submits signatures

Supporters from Raise the Wage Responsibly said their proposal strikes a balance between employees and employers.

Components of downtown Marysville’s new stormwater treatment facility can be seen from the walkway on Thursday, July 11, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. While much of the treatment and filtering happens out of sight, visitors of the area will see troughs, left, spilling water out onto the surrounding landscape, which soaks up the filtered water before it makes its way into a nearby lagoon. Overflow grates, right, help alleviate flooding during heavy rains. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
At new Marysville water treatment facility, plants filter out pollutants

City officials expect the $14 million project to clean 110 million gallons of water every year, reducing harm to wildlife.

Everett
Everett man sentenced to jail for threatening to bomb car dealership

The sentencing of Michael Harsh comes over two years after he threatened to bomb an Evergreen girls basketball game.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.