A Newport woman remains in jail this week on charges of vehicular manslaughter after driving her car into a cyclist and a runner on Highway 41 near Blanchard, Idaho, last Saturday morning. Patricia Lambie, 46, of Greenacres was killed in the collision. A 17-year-old girl – whose name is not being released – was seriously injured.
Investigators with the Idaho State Patrol say Bowdeen Kahuhu, 31, was driving northbound on Highway 41 at around 6:15 a.m. on Aug. 14 when she crossed the centerline and collided with Lambie and the teenager, who were both in the shoulder of the southbound lane, traveling north. The two were participating in the Spokane to Sandpoint Relay, a two-day event that began Friday at Mt. Spokane and covers 185 miles into North Idaho.
Lambie was riding a support bike as part of a team of cross country runners from Central Valley High School. Her daughter, Jamie, will be a junior at CV this fall. Investigators indicate that Jamie was not the runner injured in the crash.
ISP officials have said alcohol may have been a factor in the incident. ISP Corporal Charlie Greer indicated that a witness attempted to call 9-1-1 after seeing Kahuhu’s vehicle swerving on the road near Spirit Lake, but cell service was unavailable. Greer said the witness stopped again at a few miles down the road at a race checkpoint to call, but was unable to get through.
Fellow relay participants administered CPR on Lambie at the scene. She was airlifted to Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene where she was pronounced dead. The teenage runner, who suffered fractures in the collision, was treated and released from Kootenai Medical Center on Saturday.
Witnesses say both Lambie and the teenager were wearing reflective gear at the time of the crash. Participants in the relay are given a 65-page handbook outlining safety precautions. Those on the course at night are required to wear reflective vests and carry flashlights.
The incident was the second case in less than 24 hours involving relay participants. On Friday, Robin Johnson, a 44-year-old runner from suffered a broken leg and lacerations when she attempted to cross Highway 2 near Colbert. Troopers with the Washington State Patrol say Johnson failed to yield and was struck by a car.
Johnson was listed in stable condition last Friday after being treated at Sacred Heart Medical Center.
This was the third year of the Spokane to Sandpoint Relay, an event in which 12-person teams run in shifts typically covering three to eight miles. Race director Ben Orth said the events of the weekend overshadowed what has become one of the highlights of the area running season.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families,” Orth said. “This has taken a toll on everyone.”
The CV team – though not officially sponsored by the school – was comprised of representatives from the girls cross country squad. Jamie Lambie was a key contributor to the Bears’ third-place finish at regionals last year, returning from an illness to emerge with the top time on the team.
Lambie was part of CV’s third-place effort at the 4A State Cross Country Championships in 2008, the best finish in school history. Jamie’s brother, Colin, will be a sophomore at CV and has participated in track.
CV assistant cross country coach Geoff Arte recalled Patricia as a person who had a constructive influence on many lives. As a parent, Arte said Patricia was always there for her children – Jamie, Colin and their younger sibling, Jill.
“After a competition, she would always go over and hug her kids no matter how it went,” he said.
CV track coach Chuck Bowden described Patricia as “a very good CV parent.”
“Patty was a great mom,” Bowden said. “She was an example of a parent who really supported her kids.”
Bowden described how coaches supported former CV athletes after the passing of Erik Anderson, the track and cross country coach at Spokane Community College who died last February in a on-campus accident. Bowden said running served as a therapeutic device in the aftermath of Anderson’s death.
“We talked and processed and worked on it,” Bowden said. “I’m hoping (with Patricia) there’s some healing in running.”
Bowden said he had “a lot of faith in the CV community” in its ability to rally support for the Lambie family and others impacted by the incident.
“It’s a community, literally,” Bowden said. “We will pull together.”
A memorial service for Patricia Lambie is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 21, at 11 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 14601 E. Fourth Ave.