Nurse killed in crash an ‘eternal optimist’ who loved North Olympic Peninsula
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Ellen DeBondt is shown during a LaPush Pummel and Surf Frolic event, which she helped organize. DeBondt was killed in a collision between Port Angeles and Joyce on Sunday. -- Photo by Lonnie Archibald/for Peninsula Daily News

By Paige Dickerson
Peninsula Daily News

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JOYCE — Ellen DeBondt frequently voiced how lucky she felt for her life and the paradise of the North Olympic Peninsula.

“She loved her life, and she touched everyone she knew in a profound way,” Sedora DeBondt, her sister-in-law, said.

“She had an unbelievable amount of energy.

“She was an eternal optimist and always saw the positive in everything.”

Ellen DeBondt — a registered nurse noted for enjoying outdoor sports — was killed Sunday morning in a two-pickup collision on state Highway 112 between Port Angeles and Joyce.

The driver of the other pickup, Amber Steim, a 24-year-old waitress, made her first appearance in court Monday and remains in Clallam County jail for investigation of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

DeBondt was a nurse for Olympic Medical Center’s home health agency.

She was heading to work Sunday morning when the Steim pickup truck crossed the centerline and collided with her 1994 Chevrolet S-10 pickup.

Her sister-in-law said DeBondt and her husband, Ken, often would rise early in the morning to enjoy an outdoor activity.

“She and my brother would get up early in the morning — even in the snow — and go kayaking,” she said.

“She was extremely physically fit and all about keeping a healthy lifestyle.

“They were all about doing everything together and being very, very close and having all sorts of adventures.”

Ken and Ellen DeBondt moved to Crescent Bay north of Joyce about 18 months ago.

The couple had already frequented the North Olympic Peninsula and moved to the area to be closer to the outdoor adventures they loved.

The couple met 13 years ago on First Beach near LaPush and married on the beach two years later.

Surf event organizers

The couple helped to organize the LaPush Pummel and Surf Frolic for more than a decade.

“They moved [to Crescent Beach] because they seemed to spend more time out here than Seattle anyway,” Sedora DeBondt said.

“She always had a smile on her face, and she and my brother felt like the luckiest people in the world — they were so completely, 100 percent happy and fulfilled with their lives here.

“They couldn’t believe how much of a paradise they found here and with each other.

“They were completely in love.”

As a professional, DeBondt was a dedicated and thoughtful nurse, said Fran Sisson, administrator of Olympic Medical Home Health, on Monday.

“She was described by her co-workers as a wonderful nurse and a very well-respected RN,” she said.

“She was intelligent and very knowledgeable about pain control, and thoughtful about the kind of care she gave — she was that kind of quiet, thinking person.”

From Seattle area

With a strong background in pain management, DeBondt had moved from the Seattle area, where she had worked for a variety of organizations.

“She was always all smiles and always thought through any issue that she was presenting to co-workers asking for a consultation,” Sedora DeBondt said.

“She has quite an experience record.”

No memorial service has been set yet, Sedora DeBondt said.

Drennan-Ford Funeral Home of Port Angeles will handle the funeral arrangements.


Reporter Paige Dickerson can be reached at 360-417-3535 or at paige.dickerson@peninsuladaily

Last modified: March 08. 2011 1:22AM
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