Witness sought of Custer crash that left 1 dead, trooper hurt

Detectives are seeking witnesses of a Friday, Dec. 18, freeway crash near Custer that left one woman dead and a Washington State Patrol trooper with severe head trauma. Sandra Lee Clifford, 72, of Blaine, crashed a bronze ’03 Buick LeSabre into the rear of a parked Washington State Patrol car on the left shoulder of northbound Interstate 5. The trooper, Benjamin C. Ellis, of Bellingham, had been wrapping up an investigation of a non-injury rollover crash at the time, around 4:28 p.m. He was sitting in the driver’s seat with the car’s emergency flashers on, near milepost 268, south of Birch Bay-Lynden Road, according to the state patrol.