Driver in fatal Blaine Road crash dies

Published on Thu, Mar 6, 2008 by Tara Nelson

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Driver in fatal Blaine Road crash dies

By Tara Nelson

A Ferndale woman suspected of vehicular homicide in a crash that killed a Birch Bay resident last December died from her injuries.

Elyssa Birman, 28, was driving southbound on Blaine Road near Hickok Road December 18 when she allegedly tried to illegally pass a pick-up, hitting a Nissan sedan driven by Birch Bay resident Yvonne Schaff.

Schaff was pronounced dead at the scene.

Whatcom County Heath Department verified Birman died on February 5, but did not release details regarding the cause of her death.

Ann Stromber, a legal assistant with the Whatcom County prosecutor’s office who was looking to file charges of vehicular assault, said Birman spent the last two months in a coma in St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham. Those charges have been dropped, Stromber said.

Schaff was a former operations supervisor of the Birch Bay branch of The Bank of the Pacific and was currently working for Horizon Bank in Ferndale. She was also known by many for her involvement in the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Semiahmoo Yacht Club (SYC).

Stromber said Venson Barnhart, 29, the male passenger in Birman’s Chevy Lumina, pled guilty to possession of drugs in January, a charge that carried five month-sentence in a detention facility.

Washington State Patrol detective Scott Whitman said a small amount of heroin and various drug paraphernalia were recovered from Birman’s vehicle.