‘Unknown’ why teen’s car crossed into traffic in fatal crash

Clark County

The teen's name is not being released

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said a 17-year-old boy was killed in a head-on collision northeast of Vancouver Friday night.

It happened on the 1500-block of NE 72nd Avenue and 159th around 5 p.m. Deputies said it was a tough scene when they arrived. It took roughly 20 minutes to get the teenage driver out of the car because the vehicle had been so badly damaged. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The teen’s name is not being released.

A Mercedes sedan crashed head-on with a Ford van in Northeast Vancouver, killing the 17-year-old Mercedes driver, Jan. 31, 2020. (Vancouver Fire Department)

Witnesses told investigators that the Mercedes the teen had been driving was heading south on NE 72nd Ave and crossed the center line, directly into the path of a northbound Ford van. Both cars hit one another head-on.

“We need a way for people to get off the road,” said Evan Simper who lives near the crash site. “My wife and I talked about having a middle lane, a central turn lane, so if you are turning off, you don’t have traffic backing up behind you. It also adds a little buffer between opposing lanes of traffic.”

“We’ve been worried for a while—a lot of different things are going on on this road with all the new neighborhoods going in,” said Sue Simper. “There’s also a lot of wildlife, so that adds to the craziness. Also, there is the bridge, and some of the roads are offset, like 159, so that creates confusion.”

Cody Potter with his wife and infant daughter in an undated photo. (Courtesy Erin Applegate, mother-in-law)

The driver of the van suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Police identified him as 27-year-old Cody Potter from Battle Ground. Potter’s mother-in-law told KOIN 6 News that Potter is a contractor and he was in a work van at the time of the crash. She also said their family was grateful that he survived, but were saddened that a family lost their teenage son.

“I have a 17-year-old son,” said Sgt. Alex Schoening with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking for us, but obviously there are no words for the family. It’s just a tragedy all-round.”

Investigators said it was still unclear why the teen’s car crossed the center line into traffic.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said the area the crash happened is heavily traveled during the commuter hours and is a major route from Battle Ground to Vancouver.

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