Driver dies after vehicle plunges off Anacortes ferry dock

Dive teams and a tow truck recovered a woman’s body from the water at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal on Thursday afternoon.

She drove through a barrier into the water around 9:30 a.m., bringing ferry service to a halt.

There was no ferry at the dock when the crash happened. Washington State Patrol says the woman drove down a road meant for loading and unloading the ferry at a high rate of speed, rammed the white Jeep Cherokee she was driving through a traffic arm, and plummeted into the water.

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WSP identifies the victim as 30-year-old Nicole Barney of Everett.

A tow truck slowly pulled the Jeep out of the water around 2:30 p.m. Barney’s body was still in the car.

Farley McClean was first in line for the ferry and was trying to get home to Friday Harbor when he saw the Jeep zooming by.

“I thought, she’s going the wrong way! 40 miles per hour, what is she doing?” McClean said. “She was gaining speed, from here down to here, she was gaining speed all the way.”

He guesses by the time the woman reached the end of the dock, she was driving 70 miles per hour. WSP has not confirmed that speed.

WSP says the woman arrived at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal just before 8 a.m. and parked in the staging area.

“They parked for quite some time. At some point, they made a U-turn, went back to the ticketing area, and made a U-turn again and came back to the staging area, then parked for what I’m being told is just a couple of minutes, before putting the car in drive,” said Trooper Heather Axtman, spokesperson for WSP District 7.

That’s when McClean saw the woman speed by.

The car broke through the arm and plummeted into the water -- 48 degrees and 41 feet deep, according to WSP.

The Coast Guard, Border Patrol divers, Anacortes police and fire and State Patrol all responded but could not save the woman.

“It’s really sad, especially hearing it’s not search and rescue, it’s now recovery,” said Bonnie Potter, also trying to get home to Friday Harbor.

The incident canceled ferry service to and from Anacortes. Some stranded travelers were forced to wait for five or six hours.

Porter wasn’t in a rush but helped others find alternatives.

“(They were) frantic, and trying to get the numbers for airlines, taxis,” she said.

People stuck at the terminal say they’re thinking of the victim’s family.

“It’s a scary situation,” said Juana Villar, who was trying to get to Orcas Island with her granddaughters. “This is the first time we’ve experienced something like this, so we are very impacted by this.”

“To drive your car off the end of a ferry dock at 70 miles per hour,” McClean said. “That poor lady, she meant business, that’s for sure.”

WSP says it’s still investigating if the incident was intentional, or if something else may have caused it – like a medical issue.

As of Thursday night, ferry service was up and running, but the schedules were not yet back to normal.

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