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Originally published December 28, 2009 at 8:44 PM | Page modified December 29, 2009 at 12:00 PM

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Corrected version

1 killed, 4 injured in Arlington car crash

On Monday, family and friends remembered the driver, Mason Derrick, 19, as a kindhearted man.

Times Snohomish County reporter

The black Acura was speeding so fast down the rural Arlington road Sunday afternoon that neighbor Cathy Vanderberg said it was "just a blur." She heard it bottom out in a dip and then twist off the two-lane road, ejecting some of the five teenagers inside and killing the driver.

On Monday, family and friends remembered the driver, Mason Derrick, 19, as a kindhearted man.

"He was such a sweet guy," said Pam Jacobs, whose son and daughter were Derrick's friends.

Monday evening, one of the passengers, Ryan Otero, 17, was still in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center. Another passenger, Justin Lindsey, 18, of Mount Vernon, was in satisfactory condition.

After the accident two 15-year-old female passengers were transported to Everett-area hospitals with serious but nonlife-threatening injuries, according to sheriff's spokeswoman Rebecca Hover.

"A ton of kids speed on this road," said Emily Wayne, a friend of Derrick's who stood crying at the crash site Monday. The road is located about halfway between Interstate 5 and state Highway 9, and runs parallel to them, a three-mile straightaway with no stop signs.

Alice Adams, who also lives along 15th Avenue Northeast and knew Derrick, said the two dips, just before the accident scene, are where local teens "catch their air."

Snohomish County sheriffs investigators say that before the crash, the car may have been traveling 85 mph where the posted speed limit is 35.

The five teens were all friends from Stanwood High School, said Derrick's mother, Melanie Todd, and may have been giving Otero a ride to his job at the Stanwood Burger King where he was scheduled to work about an hour after the accident.

Todd described her son as a kind and caring young man who wouldn't have wanted to hurt anyone. "My heart goes out to the other families," she said. "I know Mason wouldn't have wanted to take anyone with him."

Derrick graduated in June from Stanwood High School. He had enlisted in the Army Reserves in 2008 and completed basic training and advanced individual training, his mother said.

He had been called up for active duty and was supposed to report to Fort Benning, Ga., when he was injured in another car accident — as a passenger — in October.

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Derrick loved dirt bikes, motorcycles and cars. His mother said he "didn't seem like someone who wanted to take risks." But she added that "kids don't always tell their parents everything. They don't want to hear that they're being stupid."

Derrick's stepfather, Rodger Todd, has served 37 years in the Army Reserves, and friends said Derrick had long talked about a career in the military. But the young man and his stepfather didn't always see eye to eye, friends said, and Derrick lived for periods with the families of friends.

Jacobs said she was one of "six or seven" women Derrick called "mom."

"He was the most incredible, loving soul," Jacobs said. "He'd come in and say, 'Mom, can I bathe the dogs? Can I do some dishes?' He was always willing to help out."

James Adams, 18, who graduated with Derrick in June, said the two became best friends when in fifth grade they fought over an "I Spy" book on the school bus. Derrick missed his stop, ended up at Adams' house, and the two became "like brothers."

"Everybody liked him. I don't think he had an enemy in the world," Adams said.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or lthompson@seattletimes.com

Information in this story, published Dec. 28, was corrected Dec. 29. Justin Lindsey of Mount Vernon is 18 years old. A previous version of this story said he was 19 years old and from Stanwood.

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