PORT ORCHARD, Wash. - A woman who stopped to help a stranded motorist was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver early Thursday in Kitsap County, the Washington State Patrol reports.
State troopers and medics responded to the scene, about a mile southeast of Port Orchard on Sedgwick Road near Peppermill Place SE, just before 5 a.m. after receiving reports of a fatal accident.
The Good Samaritan who stopped to help, later identified as 34-year-old Katherine Phillips of Belfair, was found dead at the scene. She is a highly regarded Washington State Ferries employee.
The stranded motorist who Phillips stopped to help, later identified as 34-year-old Katy Meeker of Sequim, was still there at the scene when troopers arrived - uninjured but extremely shaken up by what had happened.
"It's just a sad circumstance," said Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol.
A preliminary investigation found that Phillips was driving home after working the night shift at the Southworth ferry terminal when she stopped to help the stranded motorist, who had run out of fuel and was parked partially off the roadway. Phillips drove to a nearby gas station and returned with a can of gas.
As Phillips was helping to fill the tank of the stranded motorists' vehicle, another car drove by and struck her. The driver of that car didn't stop and kept going west on Sedgwick Road, said Winger.
Phillips was killed by the force of the impact. The stranded motorist who ran out of gas witnessed the accident but was unhurt.
"I was honestly so devastated, trying not to cry as I came into work because she was probably one of my favorite regulars," said Kaitlyn Gehring who works at Sedgwick One Stop Chevron. "She helped me through a couple breakups and she was just one of the most caring people I knew."
Gehring said Phillips regularly stops at the gas station on her way home from work. Gehring's boss, Sherry Jones, was there on Thursday morning when Phillips stopped there to buy gas for the stranded motorist.
"Sherry told Katie- I believe it was something along the lines of 'God will do something good for you, something good will come out of this for you' and she ended up getting hit," Gehring said.
Winger said the car that hit Phillips is believed to be a gold or tan sedan with headlight damage and possible front end damage from the impact on the passenger side of the vehicle. The sedan may be similar to a Toyota Camry and is believed to have after-market headlights of the brighter type that did not come stock with the vehicle originally.
"We need to let them know that someone got killed out here today. It’s tragic. And we want to make it right," Winger said.
Sedgwick Road was blocked at the scene after the crash, but has since reopened.
The hit-and-run driver or anyone with information about the crash or driver is urged to contact the State Patrol.