Lower Elwha tribal elder’s condition improves after motorcycle crash

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A Lower Elwha tribal elder was upgraded from critical to serious condition at Harborview Medical Center on Sunday, following a Thursday motorcycle wreck that left him with multiple broken bones.

Phillip L. Charles, Jr., 71, a Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe elder and former vice chairman of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Council, was critically injured in the motorcycle accident on state Highway 104.

On Sunday afternoon, a hospital spokesman said his condition had been upgraded from critical to serious condition.

Charles is in the intensive care unit with multiple broken bones and a minor brain bleed, Ralena Cornelson, Charles’ daughter, said Sunday afternoon.

“The neurosurgeon has cleared him on the brain bleed,” Cornelson said.

He has been through two surgeries for his injuries, and there are more scheduled, she said.

Family members, including his children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other relatives gathered at Harborview on Sunday to support Charles.

He is awake and alert and interacting with family members, Cornelson said.

Charles was riding a 2006 Harley-Davidson motorcycle just behind another rider, Randal D. Miller, 57, of Port Angeles, east on state Highway 104 near the junction with U.S. Highway 101 at about 1 p.m. when an unidentified westbound car crossed into his lane to pass another vehicle, the State Patrol said.

Miller and Charles both braked to avoid a collision, and Charles lost control and was thrown from his motorcycle.

Charles was airlifted to Harborview, where he was initially listed in critical condition.

Miller was not injured.

The car involved in the wreck did not stop and the driver has not yet been identified.

Cornelson said that Charles was an experienced motorcycle rider who had been riding since he was young.

The State Patrol report said that both Charles and Miller were both wearing protective helmets at the time of the wreck.

The accident remains under investigation.

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

Last modified: March 02. 2014 7:02PM
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