Heather Lee, the Granite Falls woman responsible for causing a five-car pileup on U.S. 2 in early June, admitted to police at the scene that she had smoked a “bowl” of marijuana earlier in the day.
But after review of the state toxicology reports, it was found that, while there was THC in her system, the amount, at 3.8 nanograms per milliliter of blood, was below the legal limit of 5.0 nanograms.
Lee was sentenced in Snohomish County Superior Court on Wednesday, Aug. 20 on two counts of felony vehicular assault for the accident which occurred on June 2. Lee was given special consideration for being a first-time offender, and sentenced to 90 days of total confinement. First-time offender waivers are available to individuals who have never been previously convicted of a felony, providing that certain other criteria are met.
It was anticipated that Lee would be released shortly after her sentencing, having already served over two months in the county jail.
According to police documents, Lee told law enforcement that she had gotten distracted by her children who were quarreling in the back seat. She turned to reprimand them. By the time she turned back to the road she was unable to avoid hitting the car in front of her, which had come to a stop while yielding to the vehicle in front of them, which was waiting to turn left into a driveway.
The momentum continued to carry Lee after she struck the first vehicle, causing her to cross the center line and collide head-on with Angella Halk, a mother of five from Startup. Halk was driving westbound on U.S. 2 with five children in her vehicle, all of whom sustained injuries. The incident occurred just east of the Reptile Zoo, and the impact caused Halk’s vehicle to roll and eventually come to a stop off the westbound shoulder of U.S. 2.
Of the five children in the vehicle, four of whom were Halk’s, two escaped the incident with bruises and minor injuries. Halk’s daughter, Nekila, still suffers from pain issues related to the back and neck sprain she suffered in the crash. Her son, Jaydin, suffered a fractured collarbone and required surgery to repair an injury to his lower intestine.
“He still has a little bit of residual pain,” said Halk.
Her son, Kameren, suffered a fracture in his hand and a broken tooth, and her daughter, Saffire, escaped with bumps and bruises. Saffire and Kameren don’t appear to be experiencing any ongoing problems as a result of the accident. Halk shared that her daughter, Nekila, has exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but it has gotten better over time.
The family friend riding with them suffered multiple skull fractures. The 10-year-old family friend riding with them has shown signs of PTSD, as well.
“I am just happy that we are all still alive and doing as well as we are,” said Halk. “I’m not angry that Heather got the marijuana charges dropped because, as a mother, I know how difficult sitting in jail without access to her children must have been for her. I just hope that she really will think twice in the future about driving distracted and honestly, we are all guilty of it in one way or another.”
Halk’s own injuries were extensive. She suffered two fractures of her left femur and had other broken bones and injuries, some of which required surgery. She was in a wheelchair until the third week in July and had to have her home fitted with a wheelchair ramp. For her, the recovery process has been slow and painful.
“I am getting around a lot better, but of course still have some physical ailments,” said Halk. “If I step wrong or accidentally smack my right hand that was broken, it hurts like crazy.”
“I still have a lot of tightness in my left arm and wrist. Most of my mobility is back, but doing some of the everyday tasks is still difficult,” she continued. “If I am on my feet an excessive amount of time, my leg, knees and left foot throb and ache like crazy. So it will probably still be a while before I am able to get back to work.”
Halk is a Certified Nursing Assistant at the Regency Care Center in Monroe.
At a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday, Aug. 27, Halk was notified that, while her leg is healing much quicker than physicians anticipated, her broken ulna, located in her forearm, is not healing well at all. Doctors confirmed that it could be several more months before she is able to return to work.
Halk would like to express her gratitude to all of those who helped her family throughout the ordeal. Not only those who helped at the scene of the accident, many members of the community rallied together organizing fundraisers, helping to provide food for her and her family, and donating the materials and the labor to build a wheelchair ramp at her home.
Halk shared that she wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved.
“And all of the staff at Regency Care Center in Monroe for the wonderful care and help they all gave me, not only while I was there as a resident, but also the continued support as an employee,” said Halk.