Community mourns trooper killed in Conway crash

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by Heather Graf / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on June 1, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 1 at 10:39 PM

A Washington State Patrol trooper who died in an accident in Conway was honored on Saturday, throughout Skagit County.

Trooper Sean O'Connell died Friday night at Skagit Valley Hospital.  He was on duty on his motorcycle when he was hit by a box truck on Fir Island Road.

The 38-year-old had logged 16 years with Washington State Patrol.   He is survived by his wife, his 7-year-old son, and his 5-year-old daughter.

On Saturday, people began leaving flowers and flags at the Conway intersection where he lost his life.

"People have been in and out," said Margaret Riley, who lives and works just across the street.  "You know, just trying to come to terms with what happened in their minds.  I think everybody just doesn't know what to do except come here and think about what happened, and how tragic it is for everyone involved."

Two of the people who stopped by told KING 5 they were friends of the truck driver that hit O'Connell's motorcycle.  They say the 49-year-old from Mount Vernon is heartbroken.

Washington State Patrol say he is fully cooperating with the investigation and was not impaired at the time of the accident.

The intersection where it happened is just a few miles south of the Skagit Bridge collapse.  Neighbors and troopers say it's being used as a detour route, and was much more congested than usual when the accident occurred.

"He was risking his life every day he went out to serve the public, and that's how he lost his life, was by serving the public," said Trooper Mark Francis.  "But when we're in these backups we have to be as cognizant as we can be, as patient as we can be, and just work together to get through these detours."

Meanwhile, flags were lowered to half-staff throughout Skagit County, to honor the fallen trooper.

The sign at the Conway Fire Department, which sits adjacent to the scene of the accident, now reads: "In Our Thoughts: Sean O'Connell."

On Sunday morning, a motorcade will escort Trooper O'Connell's body from Skagit Valley Hospital to Solie Funeral Home & Crematory in Everett.

The motorcade is tentatively set to begin at about 9 a.m.

Funeral arrangements for Trooper O'Connell have not yet been set.

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