Sekiu crash victim remains in critical condition

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

NEAH BAY — A Sekiu woman injured in a Wednesday head-on collision is recovering at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, and the Makah community is mourning the loss of an elder.

Randee R. Murdoch, 23, a resident of Sekiu who recently moved into the area from Puyallup, remained in critical condition Thursday afternoon, according to a Harborview spokeswoman.

A memorial is expected but had not been scheduled as of Thursday for Mary Jo Butterfield, 81, a Makah tribal elder and community leader who died in the wreck.

The cause of the collision remained under investigation by the State Patrol on Thursday.

Butterfield was a former Tribal Council member, was active in the tribal community and was a member of the board of Americans for Indian Opportunity, a national indigenous people’s organization headquartered in New Mexico.

Makah oral history

Interviews with Butterfield on the oral history of the Makah were recorded by the Washington State Historical Society, Women’s History Consortium.

Butterfield was driving a white 2003 Ford Taurus eastbound on state Highway 112 at Milepost 10.5, about 3.5 miles west of Sekiu at 9:46 a.m., when her car crossed the centerline into the westbound lane and collided with a westbound gray 1999 Nissan Sentra driven by Murdoch, the State Patrol said.

Butterfield was declared dead at the scene by a physician’s assistant, said Trooper Russ Winger, State Patrol spokesman.

Murdoch suffered extensive injuries to her extremities, Winger said.

State Patrol investigators said they do not believe drugs or alcohol was a factor in the wreck.

It may be several weeks before investigation results are available, Winger said.

Health issues possible

Whenever an older person is involved in such a wreck, health issues always are looked into as a possible cause, Winger said.

It is not yet known if an autopsy will be performed to learn if Butterfield died of injuries due to the collision or if she suffered a medical event before the wreck.

“We are reviewing additional information from investigators in the field to make a determination [as to whether there will be an autopsy],” Mark Nichols, chief deputy prosecuting attorney, said Thursday.

The Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office also serves as the county Coroner’s Office.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 31. 2013 5:42PM
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