Associate principal dies in 2-car crash in Hazel Dell


Carolyn "Suz" Clark-Bennett died at the scene

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The associate principal of a school in the Stevenson-Carson district died in a collision with another vehicle that left 4 others injured in Hazel Dell on Tuesday night.

Carolyn ‘Suz’ Clark-Bennett of Washougal was driving her Ford Flex Crossover when she pulled out of the King’s Way School parking lot and turned left into the path of a westbound Dodge 2500 pickup truck, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said.

The crash happened around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on NE 78th Street.

The Dodge struck the Ford’s driver’s side. Once they arrived, EMS personnel immediately attempted to resuscitate Clark-Bennett but could not revive her. The 54-year-old died at the scene.

The Dodge driver, Kierstan Cormican of Battle Ground was taken to a hospital, plus the 3 passengers in Clark-Bennett’s car — her husband and two grandchildren.

Their conditions are not known at this time.

Investigators said Cormican has been very cooperative and no charges have been filed.

‘Devastating to everybody’

Carolyn Clark-Bennett was a beloved part of the community. (Stevenson-Carson School District)

Shawna Sullivan, whose son is a junior at Stevenson, told KOIN 6 News he’s been in tears all day.

“She was the one who gave him his nickname in school, as Eddy, made him feel just so welcome at the school,” Sullivan said.

Clark-Bennett made him comfortable. “She just made life easy for him and he’s just in shock he’s not going to be able to see her everyday.”

Sullivan said her death has impacted all the students. “It’s just devastating to everybody.”

Area resident Patricia Eichner agreed, describing Clark-Bennett as very genuine and honest.

“It’s a great loss for that family,” she said. “We just don’t know. We get up each day, we go through our day and take it for granted. But you know, none of us should. None of us should because we only have today.”

School District statement

Clark-Bennett, commonly called “Suz” or “CB,” was a staff member of the Stevenson-Carson School District. The school district released the following statement in a post on Facebook:

Stevenson High School in Skamania County, February 19, 2020 (KOIN)

“It is with heavy hearts that we are letting you know that we lost one of our Stevenson-Carson staff members in a tragic accident yesterday. Last night, Suz Clark-Bennett, was in a terrible car accident and she passed away. ‘CB’ is our Wind River Middle School and Stevenson High School Associate Principal and our Skamania County Coalition Coordinator. Our school counselors and members of our local Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) will be available throughout the day at our secondary schools. If parents choose to keep students home today, please simply call in to excuse the absence. As soon as we have more information or details about a memorial service, we will let you know. Today will be a hard day, so will tomorrow and many following. However, we will carry one another during this difficult time.”

The post had an abundance of comments describing the impact Clark-Bennett had on students and the community.

Stevenson High School had an away basketball game at King’s Way High School at 6 p.m. on Tuesday night. Clark-Bennett and her family were believed to be leaving the event when the crash occurred.

Family members launched a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses and hospital expenses for those who survived.

This is an active investigation and KOIN 6 News will continue to update this story.

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