Four remain hospitalized after fatal wreck at Lake Crescent

Clallam Fire District No. 2 protects the scene and the piece of tree that struck the vehicle Sunday. (Clallam Fire District No. 2)

Clallam Fire District No. 2 protects the scene and the piece of tree that struck the vehicle Sunday. (Clallam Fire District No. 2)

PORT ANGELES — Four of five occupants of an SUV that was crushed by a falling tree as it traveled along Lake Crescent on New Year’s Day were in serious or critical condition Monday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, a hospital spokeswoman said.

A fifth passenger, Dezman L. Harper, 5, died at the scene on U.S. Highway 101.

Other occupants of the vehicle also were identified Monday by Olympic National Park Chief Ranger Duane Grego.

They were the driver, Robert Young, 51; his wife, Julie K. Young, 50; Isabella R. Young, 5; and Tharon L. Sluharty, 2.

By midafternoon Monday, Robert Young was in serious condition, Julie Young remained in critical condition, and Isabella Young and Tharon Sluharty were in serious condition, the Harborview spokeswoman said.

“It’s just a tragic traffic crash, and a child died,” Grego said.

After being struck by the tree, the vehicle slid about 100 feet on the icy, winding road before stopping, Clallam County Fire District No. 2 Chief Sam Phillips said Sunday. The incident was reported to authorities at 2:16 p.m.

Robert Young told authorities at the scene that the group was traveling from Clallam Bay home to Federal Way, Phillips said Sunday.

Park Ranger Lee Snook said Monday that the Youngs were Dezman’s grandparents.

Authorities said the occupants of the vehicle are believed to be in the same family.

“We believe they are all related, but we’re not exactly sure of that,” Grego said.

Young was driving the vehicle east along Highway 101, Phillips said. The tree was 18-20 inches in diameter.

The grandmother was unconscious when she was extricated from the vehicle with hydraulic tools and was flown directly to Harborview, Phillips said.

Dezman was in the seat behind her, he said.

Robert Young and the other two children were outside the vehicle when emergency personnel arrived.

They were transported to Olympic Medical Center before being transported to Harborview, Grego said.

He said the State Patrol is reconstructing the incident while Olympic National Park, which is overseeing the investigation, interviews the persons involved.

“We have to wait until healing takes place,” Grego said.

“It could [take] weeks to put all those pieces together.”

The incident occurred at milepost 232 about 2 miles west of Storm King Ranger station.

Several trees had fallen in the area.

Responding agencies included Clallam County Fire District No. 4, the county Sheriff’s Department and the state Department of Transportation.

Transportation shut down both lanes of Highway 101 around Lake Crescent from 2:37 p.m. to 7:03 p.m. New Year’s Day, diverting traffic to state Highway 112 while authorities investigated the crash site.


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at

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