Crash puts campaign on hold; City Council candidate, family ask for privacy to grieve

By Paige Dickerson
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES -- The election campaign of City Council candidate Brooke Nelson, whose son and mother were killed in a head-on collision Sunday, is on hold for now.

"The campaign is where it is for now, and we are hoping that people will just support her in her time of grief," said Dylan Honnold, spokesman for Nelson's campaign.

"The ballots are out, obviously, but we are just letting it move forward on its own, and we'll take her direction when she is ready."

Nelson's mother, Mary Wyman, 60, and son, Theodin Nelson, 6, were killed Sunday afternoon in the crash on state Highway 112 near Power Plant Road just west of U.S. Highway 101.

They car they were in struck one carrying newlyweds Joshua Dickens, 24, and Emily Dickens, 22, of Vancouver, Wash.

Emily Dickens remained in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle on Monday with lacerations to the liver and spleen and a cervical spine fracture.

Joshua Dickens was reported satisfactory condition Monday at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles. The nature of his injuries have not been made public.

Nelson, a real estate agent, is running against incumbent Betsy Wharton for Position 4 on the Port Angeles City Council in the current all-mail election that ends Nov. 3.

Honnold said she, her husband, Darrell Nelson, a Sequim police officer, and their daughter, Cara, have requested no phone calls or visits from people for now.

"They are with professional grief counselors at the moment and are just trying to work through this right now," Honnold said.

"They need the time to privately grieve."

Wharton and Nelson were scheduled to appear at a candidates forum for the council position at Monday's Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon, which was attended by about 50 people.

Forum canceled

But because of the tragedy, the forum was canceled and replaced with another program.

"Like everyone else in this community, my heart is breaking for Brooke and her family," Wharton said.

"I think about it endlessly. As a mother and a daughter, it is the worst thing you could imagine, and my heart goes out to her and her family.

"It is a unique relationship one has with a political rival. It is intense, and yet this has been one of mutual respect, and there is a kind of closeness there."

Wharton said it "is time to take a pause in the election activity."

At Monday's meeting, chamber president Betsy Reed Schultz held a moment of silence for the family.

"We were not prepared [Sunday], nor are we any day, for the tragedy that struck one of our families amidst the celebration of thankfulness," she said, speaking of the Safe Community Appreciation Day, an event honoring police and other public safety personnel.

Brooke and Darrell Nelson were attending the ceremony at the Vern Burton Center in Port Angeles when they were advised of the collision.

"Brooke and her family will need your strength and support," Schultz said.

Grief counselors were available for children, staff and parents in the Port Angeles School District.

Theodin Nelson attended Jefferson Elementary School, and Cara Nelson attends Port Angeles High School.

"Our hearts go out to the family in this heartbreaking circumstance," said Schools Superintendent Jane Pryne.

"This situation is a tragedy for the family, friends, students and our school district.

"We have extra support in our schools to help our students, families and staff deal with their grief."

Veered off road

Mrs. Wyman, who was driving a green 1997 Subaru Legacy eastbound on state Highway 112 about a mile west of the intersection with U.S. Highway 101, veered off the right side of the road and overcorrected.

The State Patrol said it was unclear why she swerved.

The Subaru traveled back across the centerline, colliding head-on with the 1990 Toyota Camry driven by Joshua Dickens.

Both lanes of the two-lane highway were blocked for most of the afternoon until the crash was cleared about 5 p.m.

The Dickenses were married six weeks earlier and were visiting family members on the North Olympic Peninsula.

Associates, family and friends of the Sequim Police Department have offered to take care of food and other needs of the Nelson family through the end of October, Honnold said.

Joyce Sullivan of the Port Angeles Association of Realtors said that organization will coordinate meals after that time.

Sullivan may be phoned at 360-452-7441.

A memorial fund has been set up at First Federal under Brooke Nelson's name and contributions may be made at any branch.

Nelson's brokerage, Coldwell Banker Uptown Real Estate, 1115 E. Front St., and the Port Angeles Association of Realtors, 127 E. First St., are also accepting personal care items as well as sympathy cards on behalf of the family, Honnold said.

Harper-Ridgeview Funeral Home is handling the funeral arrangements for Mrs. Wyman and for Theodin Nelson.

Service times were not yet available.


Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at

Last modified: October 20. 2009 3:01PM
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