A 44-year-old woman killed Monday morning in a series of crashes on state Route 16 served in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the USS Nimitz.
Lt. Cmdr. Regina Mills served as the aircraft handling officer on the Nimitz, which is stationed in Bremerton right now. She was responsible for the arrangement of aircraft on the flight and hangar decks, the Navy reported in a press release issued this morning.
“Regina was a great leader and officer,” Capt. Paul. O. Monger, USS Nimitz commanding officer, said in the press release. “She was a leader and mentor not only to the sailors and officers in the Air Department, but throughout the ship.”
Mills, who is from Louisville, Ky., was headed westbound on SR 16 on Monday shortly after 5 a.m. She came upon several crashes on the ice-slickened roadway near Burnham Drive and pulled over.
Among the accidents, a motorcycle rider had crashed and had laid his bike down.
Mills, who was living in Everett, parked her car before a Washington State Patrol cruiser and got out to help the motorcyclist.
Mills, the trooper and the motorcyclist were standing on the right shoulder when a pickup truck lost control and hit another vehicle. The vehicle crashed into the three on the roadway.
Mills was killed. The trooper and motorcyclist were injured.
“Tasked with ensuring optimum safety on board an aircraft carrier, an inherently dangerous environment, she died as the result of trying to assist a person faced with potential danger,” Monger said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. Regina will be sorely missed.”
On Facebook, fellow sailors said Mills was one-of-a-kind.
“It was an honor to serve with her,” Doug Ames wrote on the USS Nimitz Facebook page.
Michael Selvey Truely wrote, “Made everyone feel like they mattered and she took care of junior sailors like no other.”
Joshua Palomares wrote, “Her job was to keep us safe on deck. She was like a mother to a lot of us. She will be greatly missed.”
The State Patrol is asking any witnesses to the chain of events leading up to and the actual collisions to call detective sergeant Jerry Cooper at 360-805-1192 or detective Curt Ladines at -360-805-1160.