Blaine man dies after single-car accident just north of Bellingham

Published on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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A Blaine man has died from injuries sustained in a car accident Thursday evening just north of Bellingham.

Axl Markusen, 21, died at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center after being involved in a single-car accident in the 300 block of Kline Road, just east of the intersection with the Guide Meridian. Benjamin Lolkema, 21, of Ferndale, was driving the 2003 Dodge Ram pickup in which Markusen was the passenger.

According to the Washington State Patrol, the pair were headed west on Kline Road at about 10:30 Thursday night when the truck left the road, struck a power pole and came to rest in a culvert.

Markusen was ejected from the truck after it struck the power pole. Washington State trooper Keith Leary said Markusen was not wearing a seatbelt while Lolkema was.

“We do have a mandatory seatbelt law, and the chances are quite good [Markusen] would have survived this collision if he had been wearing a seatbelt,” Leary said.

Lolkema, after being released from the hospital, was arrested on suspicious of vehicular homicide and taken to the Whatcom County jail. Leary said alcohol was a factor in the accident, but could not offer details on Lolkema’s blood-alcohol level or what exactly caused the truck to veer off the road.

“We hated to see this example happen before the weekend celebration of St. Patrick’s day, but this can be a lesson showing what happen when people choose to drink and drive,” Leary said.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.