Warning: Scrape your icy windshield to avoid accidents like this one

SNOHOMISH — It was a cold morning in November.

Twenty-three degrees.

Clear skies.

Five minutes before sunrise.

A pickup truck had stopped at the intersection of Pine Avenue and Maple Avenue, a busy part of town. The driver turned and hit a Snohomish High School sophomore in the crosswalk.

Lora Burke, 15, was taken by ambulance to the hospital where she was treated for a fractured pelvis.

A Snohomish woman, 42, was driving her son to school when her pickup struck the girl. She told police she didn’t see the teen.

Police believe they know why.

The front windshield was “completely obscured by ice,” according to a police report.

The woman told an officer that she was surprised when a cellular telephone hit her windshield.

It belonged to the teen, who was not using it as she crossed the street.

Police have completed the accident investigation and are forwarding it to prosecutors for review.

The case is a reminder of the importance of taking the extra few minutes to clear car windows before driving, officials said.

“This lady made a conscious decision to drive with the windows essentially blocked,” Police Chief John Flood said. “Her vision was obstructed. She could not see out that window. You can’t drive down the road like that. It is not safe.”

The results could have been more dire had it been a smaller child or an elderly person crossing the street at that moment, he said.

Derrick Burke, Lora’s father, hopes what happened that morning can serve as a cautionary tale for others, that they will take the time to scrape their windows before driving.

The Snohomish City Councilman understands it’s human nature to think the car defrost will clear off the windshield quickly. He just wants people to consider the risks and do what’s right.

Lora missed more than a week of school. She needed crutches. She’s still in physical therapy. The cross country runner has had to put aside that passion while her body mends.

The morning of the crash was terrifying for her dad.

Less than five minutes after Lora left for school, he received a call. He could hear sirens in the background and his daughter screaming.

“It was a horrible moment,” he said.

Since then, he has worked to make sure his vehicles are well equipped with emergency supplies. He’s also refreshed his knowledge of first aid.

On the day of the crash, the woman was told she could be charged with vehicular assault, a felony, according to the police report. It’s also possible she could be cited for reckless or negligent driving.

Just how often frosty windshields are factors in traffic accidents is difficult to say.

The Washington State Traffic Safety Commission doesn’t keep those statistics.

“It’s not something we commonly see,” said Washington State Patrol trooper Travis Shearer. “When we do, it’s very obvious. We definitely pull them over and have a talk with them.”

Flood said others can learn from the November accident.

“It is an example of how busy we are in our day-to-day lives, that we push things to the last moment,” he said. “We just need spend the extra minute.”

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

Talk to us

More in Local News

A car breaks and waits for traffic to pass before turning onto 123rd Avenue on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 in Lake Stevens, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Can roundabouts, lower speed limit make 84th Street NE safer?

Maybe, but transportation and disability advocates want design features to make crossing safe.

Two brother bear cubs, burned in a fire last summer, were recently reunited at PAWS in Lynnwood. (PAWS) 20211129
Bear cubs, burned in wildfires, reunited in viral video in Lynnwood

The brother cubs are being treated at PAWS Wildlife Center. They were injured in a wildfire near Lake Chelan.

Everett officials have questions about a 125-room hotel shelter

City Council members say they weren’t aware of the county’s proposal until it made headlines.

A fatal crash prompted closure of West Mukilteo Boulevard between Forest Park and Dogwood Drive Friday afternoon. (Everett Police Department) 20211126
2 identified in deadly T-bone crash in Everett

Otila Retel Azanedo de Jones, 67, and William Jones, 85, died at the scene.

Reagan Dunn to take on U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier in 8th District

The Republican is challenging incumbent Democrat Kim Schrier in a district which could include a slice of Snohomish County.

A man died after he was found with gunshot wounds Saturday in downtown Everett. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Man dead after shooting in downtown Everett

The man, believed to be in his 40s, was found near California Street and Rockefeller Avenue.

Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander of Puget Sound-based Carrier Strike Group 11, in Bremerton on Nov. 23, 2021. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin McTaggart)
From Everett, this rear admiral commands a Navy strike group

Christopher Sweeney leads Carrier Strike Group 11, a force of aircraft and ships stretching from here to San Diego.

Charges: Everett ID thief tried to buy wheels, speakers, more

The man, 33, was charged this week with 10 counts of identity theft in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Bradley Woolard (U.S. Attorney's Office)
Arlington-area man who led fentanyl ring gets 20 years

When Bradley Woolard’s home was raided in 2018, authorities found more than 12,000 fentanyl pills.

Most Read