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State Parks mourns loss of Ranger Johanson
OLYMPIA — State Parks staff are mourning the death of Ranger Ed Johanson, who died late Feb. 24 in a head-on collision in Central Kitsap.
Johanson, 44, was off duty and driving home in his private vehicle at the time of the crash. The driver of the other car is being evaluated for narcotics and was taken into custody on investigation of vehicular homicide, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department.
Johanson was a ranger for about 20 years, serving at Kitsap Memorial State Park northwest of Poulsbo until his recent assignment to Kanaskat Palmer State Park in the Green River Gorge area. Johanson was known for his enthusiasm and passion. He was someone who considered being a ranger as an identity rather than just a job, according to close co-workers.
“This is very sad. Ed will be sorely missed,” agency director Don Hoch said. “I had the opportunity to work with Ed on several projects. I know he enjoyed his career as a park ranger. He had a real passion for providing quality customer service and loved working with the public. Many will remember Ed, the pride he had in his work and his commitment to continuous improvement in parks and services.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire also expressed her condolences.
“Like so many of our employees, Ranger Ed Johanson was the type who went above and beyond to make both our parks and our state a better place,” Gregoire said in a press release. “A tireless advocate and innovator for our parks and a beloved community volunteer, his loss will be felt.”
The crash occurred shortly before 8 p.m. on the 12000 block of Holly Road NW, east of Seabeck Holly Road and almost midway between Lake William Symington and Wildcat Lake. The crash was reported at 7:57 p.m. by a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy who was patrolling in the area at the time and arrived on the scene moments after the collision occurred.
According to the Kitsap County Sheriff’d Department, it appears as though a 1995 Ford Thunderbird traveling eastbound on Holly Road crossed over the centerline, entering into the westbound lane of travel. The Thunderbird continued eastbound in the westbound lane and collided head-on with Johanson’s Honda Prelude in the westbound lane. Two other westbound vehicles narrowly avoided colliding into the Thunderbird by taking evasive actions, the Sheriff’s Department reported.
Johanson died at the scene. The 35-year-old driver of the Thunderbird needed to be extricated from his vehicle and was taken to Harrison Hospital in Bremerton with less serious injuries. His female passenger, age 26, was not injured. Both drivers and the female passenger appeared to be wearing seatbelts.
The investigation indicated that the driver of the Thunderbird was impaired by narcotics. Blood was drawn from him for testing under state law for vehicular homicide. Those toxicology results are pending. Once the driver was released from the hospital, he was taken into custody for vehicular homicide and booked into the Kitsap County Jail. His bail was set at $500,000.
Holly Road NW was closed to through traffic between Green Mountain Road and Boundary Trail for about 4 ½ hours while sheriff’s traffic deputies investigated the collision scene.