PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles teen who was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center after the minivan he was riding in crashed into a pole Thursday has been upgraded from critical to serious condition, a hospital spokeswoman said Saturday.
Ethan Hutchins, 14, who had been listed in critical condition Thursday and Friday, was in serious condition at the Seattle hospital Saturday, a nursing supervisor said.
His 4-year-old brother, Andrew Hutchins, who was riding in the same minivan, was discharged from Harborview on Friday.
The State Patrol cited the boys’ father, Darrell Hutchins, for negligent driving after the early-morning wreck at U.S. Highway 101 and Mount Pleasant Road east of Port Angeles.
Darrell Hutchins told investigators that he fell asleep at the wheel about a block from home after returning from Kennewick when the crash occurred.
The State Patrol said the 2007 Chevrolet Uplander Darrell Hutchins was driving crossed the eastbound lanes before striking a power box and traffic-signal support pole at about 4 a.m.
Ron Potter of Nature’s Caretaker, a Bremerton landscaping, irrigation and snow- and ice-removal company, was driving to a job site in Port Angeles when the collision occurred.
Potter, of east Bremerton, said he saw flashing lights at the intersection at the moment of impact.
“As we got closer, we could see a minivan that became one with the light pole,” Potter said in a Friday interview.
Potter and a co-worker, Anthonie “Tony” Compton, parked the company truck with its lights pointed to the highway, called 9-1-1 and assisted Darrell Hutchins as he was exiting the vehicle.
“He was in a panic,” Potter said.
“He was in pretty rough shape and shook up. We took the youngest son and put him in our truck. We applied first aid. He was bleeding from his chin.”
Ethan Hutchins was unconscious in the front passenger seat, which took the brunt of the impact.
“He wasn’t even breathing,” Potter said.
“I told the [9-1-1] operators, ‘I believe we have causalities.’ ”
Potter said he talked to Ethan Hutchins for a few minutes and encouraged the boy’s father to do the same.
“He started to stir,” Potter said of the teen.
Ethan Hutchins was unconscious when he was removed from the minivan by Clallam County Fire District 2 personnel using a Jaws of Life apparatus, Assistant Fire Chief Dan Huff said.
It took about 20 minutes to cut off the passenger door and roof to extricate the boy, Huff told the Peninsula Daily News on Thursday.
First responders arrived about 10 minutes after the crash, Potter said.
Potter and Compton remained on scene for about 45 minutes until Ethan Hutchins was out of the minivan. Their first job Thursday was to remove black ice from the parking lot of the Port Angeles Walgreens.
“I’m glad we were there,” Potter said.
Darrell Hutchins was treated and discharged from Olympic Medical Center on Thursday, an OMC spokeswoman said. The brothers were airlifted from OMC to Harborview.
All three occupants were wearing seat belts and drugs or alcohol were not involved, the State Patrol said in a collision memo.
Fire District 2 units cleared the scene at 6:12 a.m. The Port Angeles Police Department, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office and State Patrol also responded.
Nature’s Caretaker posted dashboard camera footage of the crash scene with a message thanking Potter and Compton for “doing the right thing and being heroes.”
“Without their assistance, this could have been much worse,” the post said.
Multiple GoFundMe sites have been established to help the Hutchins family with medical and other expenses.
Visit www.gofundme.com/4wkuzg0 (Darrell Hutchins)
Visit https://www.gofundme.com/4wttpk8 (Chauntayle Rogers, Hutchins’ mother)
Visit https://www.gofundme.com/support-kelsi-and-andrew-hutchins (Kelsi Hutchins, injured boys’ mother)
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at email@example.com.