Traffic tragedy strikes again



An elementary school teacher from Federal Way died and her daughter was injured a traffic accident Wednesday in Spokane, the second traffic fatality involving the local school community in less than a week.

Patricia Klasen, 46, a teacher for 10 years in Federal Way Public Schools –– the past three years at Lake Grove Elementary School –– was in a car with Breanna Klasen, 17, who was in Spokane to play in a softball tournament.

According to a report by television station KXLY in Spokane, the Klasen vehicle was among four vehicles stopped at a red light at an intersection on Highway 395 when a pickup truck struck them. The truck’s driver may have been under the influence of alcohol, the station reported.

Patricia Klasen died later at Deaconess Medical Center. Her daughter, one of seven other people injured in the crash, was in satisfactory condition Thursday at the hospital. The other injured motorists also survived, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The accident was the second traffic fatality to touch the Federal Way schools and community in five days. Luke Johnson, 18, a star golfer at Federal Way High School, died Monday after being injured in a two-vehicle crash Sunday on South 336th Street in Federal Way.

A memorial was held Thursday for Johnson at about the same time that news of the Klasen accident began circulating in town.

Deb Stenberg, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the district’s grief counselors were to be available at Lake Grove Thursday and Friday to help students, friends and co-workers of Klasen deal with Klasen’s death.

Klasen, a first and second-grade teacher, last year taught a “loop” class, in which the teacher starts with a group of students in the younger grade and has them again the next year.

Breanna Klasen is a senior at Decatur High School. Her summer softball team, Sudden Impact, was playing this week in the 18-under B nationals. The team was scheduled to play its second game Thursday afternoon.

“Our hearts go out to all of the Klasen family and friends,” the student-athlete’s Decatur coach, Pete Waid, said in an e-mail.

Authorities arrested Jimmie Brewer, 49, at the scene of the accident on suspicion of vehicular assault because alcohol may have been involved, according to KXLY. He was believed to be the driver of the truck.

Brewer, still hospitalized Thursday, reportedly will be charged after he’s released.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and

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