Family, community heartbroken after local mom killed in hit-and-run crash

SOUTHWORTH, Wash. –  The Washington State Patrol is hunting for the hit-and-run driver who killed a Washington State Ferries employee near Southworth early Thursday morning.

The crash happened around 5 a.m. on State Route 160 near Peppermill Lane.

State troopers say the victim, 34-year-old Katherine Phillips, was killed while trying to help another driver who ran out of gasoline.

Her family and loved ones called her Katie; her husband said she was her family’s rock. Katie’s mother told Q13 News she wasn’t surprised to learn her daughter’s last moments were trying to help a stranger.

“It was a tragic circumstance where she was just trying to help,” said WSP trooper Russ Winger.

Troopers say a driver had run out of gas early Thursday morning and pulled over on the side of SR 160

When Katie’s shift ended at the Southworth ferry terminal, she came upon the stalled vehicle and stopped to see if the stranger could use some help.

“She picked up some fuel, returned, and was in the process of putting gas in the car when she was struck by the vehicle,” said Winger.

The stranded driver witnessed the crash but wasn’t hurt.

Katie was the mother of two boys and lived near Belfair. She had been working for the ferry system since 2015.

Co-workers left balloons and a candle where Katie’s life was cut short.

“We were shocked. We were absolutely shocked especially knowing she’s been working at the ferry dock for the past couple years. She would come in here at least twice a week,” said Emily Gamber, who works at a nearby convenience store.

Gamber says Katie would swing by for lunch and always wore a friendly face.

“A lot of people have already came in this morning that have heard about it and are just totally bothered by it,” she said.

Investigators believe they are looking for a gold or tan Toyota Camry style sedan with body damage to the passenger headlight and front grill. They also believe the suspect took off westbound on SR 160, and believe they are likely a local.

Police and Katie’s family are hopeful the causing driver does the right thing and goes to the police.

“The longer they wait, the worse it’s going to be for them in the end when we do find them, and we will find them,” said Winger.

Katie’s family said they will remember her as a loving wife, mother and daughter who always wanted to help others.

Anyone who might have information about Thursday morning’s crash is being asked to call 911.