State patrol seeking witnesses in deadly Custer car wreck

By Steve Guntli

Washington State Patrol (WSP) is looking for witnesses following a two-car collision that killed a Blaine woman.

WSP spokesman Mark Francis said his department’s major accident investigation team (MAIT) is investigating the accident, which occurred about 4:30 p.m. December 18. Sandra Clifford, 72, of Blaine was killed, and a WSP trooper was injured.

State trooper Benjamin Ellis had parked his patrol vehicle on the northbound side of I-5 near mile marker 168 and was investigating a rollover crash in which no one was injured. Ellis was sitting in the driver seat of his Chevrolet Caprice patrol car with the emergency flashers on.

Clifford, driving a bronze 2003 Buick LeSabre, crashed into the back of Ellis’ parked patrol car. Paramedics arriving at the scene found Clifford unresponsive and severely injured. She died at the scene shortly thereafter.

Ellis, 26, suffered a concussion and was taken to PeaceHealth St. Joseph hospital in Bellingham. He was treated for his injuries and released around midnight.

The state patrol is looking for witnesses who can help determine the cause of the crash. Francis said the department is examining all aspects that led to the collision and are looking for any information on events leading up to or after the crash. The WSP does not suspect any drugs or alcohol.

To submit information about the accident, call detective sergeant Jerry Cooper at 425/508-0602 or email

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