By Steve Guntli
Two teenagers are dead and two more are in the hospital after an SUV struck them on Smith Road Wednesday afternoon.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., about 30 students from Windward High School were walking outside as part of a supervised P.E. class exercise. William J. Klein, 34, of Bellingham, was driving his black Toyota 4Runner east along Smith Road. He swerved left, then over-corrected to the right, striking four teenage boys on the sidewalk near Graveline Road and West Smith Road.
Two of the boys, Shame Ormiston, 18, and Gabriel Anderson, 15, both of Ferndale, died at the scene. Two others, Kole Randall, 17, of Ferndale and Michael Brewster, 17, of Custer, suffered severe fractures to their legs. The boys were taken to PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital for treatment. Brewster was later transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle by ambulance. Both are listed in serious condition.
Klein told police that he had fallen asleep as he was driving home from work. He claimed he had used hallucinogenic mushrooms in the past and smoked marijuana on a daily basis, but did not say if he was under the influence at the time of the accident. Results of blood and urine tests are pending, and could take several weeks.
Klein’s 3-year-old son was in the 4Runner in a safety seat at the time of the accident. Neither Klein nor the child were injured.
Klein was arrested at the scene. He is facing two charges of vehicular homicide and two of vehicular assault.
Klein appeared before the court on June 11. Whatcom Superior Court judge Leon Henley set bail at $200,000. Klein posted the bond on June 12 and was released from jail.
A community gathering was held at the Good News Fellowship Church on West Axton Road on June 10. Grief counselors were made available to speak to students and parents. A candlelight vigil was held on June 13 at Centennial Riverwalk Park in Ferndale.
The Ferndale Haggen’s grocery store is accepting donations to give to the families of the four boys. Donations can be made at checkout stands or the customer service counter.