Fred Brand is remembered as a positive, fun loving guy who loved to make and fly kites. He was also a dedicated worker at the Tesoro oil refinery, rising before dawn to make the long drive from Concrete to Anacortes every work day.
That's what he was doing when he was hit head on by a car that crossed the center line on Highway 20 east of Sedro-Woolley around 5:30 a.m. Friday. Police say the car that crossed over may have been driven by a drunk driver. Four young people were in that oncoming car. Two of them died.
Friends say Fred and his wife Minda are people of faith and believe everything happens for a reason -- even tragedies like this.
"God knows," said neighbor Cheryl Werda. "God's not surprised by this and he has his reasons. When it's our time, it's our time."
Brand put off retiring this year at age 65 and planned to work one more year at the Tesoro refinery where he spent many years. After retirement, he and his wife planned to move to Oregon to be closer to their daughter who was planning to have a baby.
In another tragic turn of events, friends say Minda was racing to see her husband at the hospital, but when she got to the roadblock where the crash occurred, police would not let her through. She had to take a long detour. By the time she got to the hospital, her beloved husband had passed.
"I don't know if that had any effect on her being able to see him or not, but I know they were performing CPR on him after the accident. I don't know if there would've been a chance for her to have any words with him...it's very heartbreaking," said Werda.
Twenty-one-year-old Megan Brown of Bellingham and 23-year-old Nicole Washington of Sedro-Woolley died at the scene. Two people, 19-year-old Alfredo Navarro III of Mount Vernon and 22-year-old Quinnton Baxter of Burlington, were injured.
Navarro and Baxter were in the front seat of the car, but it's unclear who was driving. Police say they smelled alcohol at the scene and found a beer can in the car. Navarro has a previous DUI conviction. Baxter has convictions for drugs, theft and domestic violence.