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A 16-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol who was once named Trooper of the Year died Friday evening after a collision in Skagit County in which he was thrown from his motorcycle.

Sean O’Connell was on duty as a motorcycle officer in Conway, south of Mount Vernon, when he was struck by a box truck and thrown from his cycle, according to a WSP spokesman, Trooper Mark Francis.

O’Connell suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to Skagit Valley Hospital, where colleagues and WSP Chief John Batiste gathered.

His death was announced at a news conference shortly before 10 p.m.

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Batiste said O’Connell was “a very embracing person. He loved people, and they, in turn, loved him.”

“The community lost a great guy,” said WSP spokesman Trooper Keith Leary, who told KING 5 that he’d worked with O’Connell for about 12 years.

“The state lost a great friend and a great trooper,” Leary said.

The circumstances of the collision, which occurred near Fir Island Road and Greenfield Street at 5:30 p.m., are still under investigation, according to Francis.

Fir Island Road, which remained closed most of the evening, had increased traffic because of detours after the May 23 collapse of the Skagit River Bridge and increased law-enforcement patrols, he said.

Francis said the driver of the truck, a 49-year-old Mount Vernon man, did not show signs of intoxication and voluntarily agreed to a blood draw.

Leary said O’Connell, 38, of Lake Stevens, had been with the Patrol for 16 years.

He was married and had two children, a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl.

Christine Clarridge can be reached at or 206-464-8983.

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