DEMING, Wash. — First responders were dispatched to a head-on crash on the Mount Baker Highway (SR542) about 12:45am, Thursday, April 28th, that sent 2 drivers to the hospital via ambulance.
Washington State Patrol (WSP) reported a westbound 2001 Toyota Highlander driven by Andrey Andreyevich Varkentin, age 37, of Maple Falls, was in the 5400 block of the highway when it crossed the center line. A driver in an eastbound 2017 Volkswagen Golf unsuccessfully took evasive action to avoid a head-on crash and both vehicles collided on the shoulder of the road and came to rest down an embankment.
Whatcom County Fire District 14 Fire Chief Jerry DeBruin told Whatcom News a resident 300 to 500 yards away heard the crash in the 55mph section of road and called 911.
DeBruin said his crews arrive to find both vehicles down a slope, about 30 feet off the road in blackberry bushes. “Someone driving by at 55mph would likely never notice the wreckage,” DeBruin said. “We are fortunate the neighbor heard the crash.”
Both drivers were the sole occupants of their vehicles and suffered injuries and fractures to arms and legs. They were transported by ambulance to PeaceHealth St Joseph Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.
DeBruin said it was challenging to extricate both drivers from their vehicles, position them on backboards and get them up to the road for treatment due to the slope and the blackberry bushes. He noted there were 3 WSP troopers on scene and they were a big help.
The WSP said in a press memo that both drivers had been wearing their seatbelts, both vehicles were considered total losses and drugs or alcohol were involved.
WSP booked Varkentin into the Whatcom County Jail charged with suspicion of driving under the influence and vehicular assault.