Trooper on fatal crash: 'That's enough to tear at your heartstrings'
SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash. -- Witnesses recount a terrifying scene Monday evening in Skagit County when they found the wreckage after a mother swerved off Chuckanut Drive and landed upside down in ravine, seriously injuring her and killing her young child.
This image was bad enough, but when they realized a mother and her 6-year old were trapped inside, panic set in.
"It was pretty messed up," said witness John Forbes. "Yeah, it was pretty ugly. I don't like seeing kids die."
Forbes and his buddy Carl were on scenic Chuckanut Drive around 5 p.m. when they came upon the crash.
Washington State Patrol officials say 35-year old Kristin Conzo lost control on a hairpin turn, careened over the concrete wall and plummeted 40 feet into Oyster Creek.
"We went down and I carried him up and he didn't make it," said Forbes, fighting back tears.
He carried the boy's lifeless body to the roadside, while Carl helped his mother. Conzo is in critical condition at Harborview.
"I wish I could talk about it, I just don't have the ability right now," Forbes said.
Mother and son are from Lynden, so is John Griggs, who's working a construction job next to the crash site. He missed the crash by a few minutes.
"This corner in particular, I've ridden it. (That) particular corner is a nasty one," said Griggs, who's building a deck platform for a nearby restaurant.
"There is not a lot of room for error," said Washington State Patrol Trooper Keith Leary. "Alcohol or drugs do not appear to be a factor."
Trooper Leary pointed to long scrape marks along a concrete shoulder on Chuckanut Drive leading up to the crash site, suggesting Conzo's SUV rode the wall, careened into the hillside and then tumbled into Oyster Creek below.
"That's enough to tear at your heartstrings," said Leary.
"Makes you think, especially when it's a child," Griggs said. "I have children of my own."
The State Patrol says when the victim is well enough, troopers will interview her. Investigators say they'll be looking into whether speed, a medical condition or another distraction could have triggered the crash.