Speed, distraction factors in Grinnell crash

Reconstructionist examines wreck

PORT ANGELES — Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Council member Kurt Grinnell was speeding southbound on Mount Pleasant Road last month with a cellphone videoplayer turned on, propped on the dashboard, when his vehicle veered off the roadway in a fatal wreck, a Clallam County crash expert said Friday.

Sheriff’s Office collision reconstructionist Josh Ley said Grinnell, 57, was driving about 55 mph in a 35-mph zone, his cellphone placed in front of him near the speedometer, when his 2012 black Toyota Camry went off a straight portion of the pavement at about 4 p.m. April 20.

“We looked at the phone itself, and there was an application in use,” Ley said.

“It appears a video was playing on his phone on the dashboard.

“Excessive speed and distracted driving. Those are the causation factors.”

Ley said he did not identify the specific video but Grinnell appears to have been watching a series of them.

The sheriff’s office is awaiting the results of toxicology tests and expects to release a final case report this week.

When Grinnell swerved off the road in the rural area east of Port Angeles, he struck a sign, two address markers and an unknown number of fence poles and posts, according to an initial case report released last week.

“The car was speeding up as it left the roadway,” Ley said.

A 2-by-6 fence post went through the windshield and struck Grinnell.

He died at the scene, according to the case report.

An autopsy determined the cause was head trauma.

The speed of the vehicle was determined by information derived from an air-bag sensor, Ley said.

“There were no defects to the car,” he added.

“There was nothing found in the environment that contributed to the loss of control and mechanism of injury.”

Grinnell, the CEO of Jamestown Seafood and a pioneer of tribal aquaculture activities, was about a mile from home.

Ley said he reported his findings last week to Grinnell’s family.

Two generations of the family helped clean the crash site on their own prerogative, Ley said.

“They were there ahead of me,” Ley said.

“They were just wonderful people, a very classy, gracious family.”

A memorial service that several hundred people attended in person and by watching online was held in Grinnell’s honor May 1 at Jamestown Beach.

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

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