By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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BRINNON — The news was bad in the tiny town of Brinnon on Tuesday.
A 14-year-old girl who had been born there and was well-known died of her injuries that morning after a rollover wreck Sunday.
Ruby-Jean Murray was in the bed of a pickup truck with two friends when the driver — Tyson Svetich, 18, of Quilcene — made a sudden move, throwing two of the girls from the truck while pinning Murray underneath the vehicle, which had rolled over, according to Jefferson County Sheriff's deputies.
The teen, daughter of Tim and Vikki Murray of Brinnon, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center, where she died of her injuries at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, Jefferson County Sheriff Tony Hernandez said.
“She really was a shining star,” Vikki Murray said Tuesday of her only daughter and youngest child.
“She was kind and loving and always wanted everyone to be happy. She had a lot of friends and was full of life.”
Murray — who in addition to her parents is survived by two brothers, Jacob, 20 and Brandon, 32 — was good at sports and drama.
Ruby-Jean wanted to be a singer, according to her mother, adding that her daughter could sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” when she was 2 years old.
A memorial service is planned at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Quilcene School, 294715 U.S. Highway 101, where Ruby-Jean Murray would have entered ninth grade in September, her mother said.
Svetich will be charged, Hernandez said.
He added that as of Tuesday, it was uncertain whether the charge would be vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, negligent driving or a combination.
The charges will be determined by the Jefferson County prosecuting attorney, Hernandez said.
Pastor Dan Kennedy, who heads Brinnon Community Church, which the family attended, said the death has thrown the town of nearly 800 people into mourning.
“When a person like this is taken, the whole town grieves, and that's what's happening now,” Kennedy said.
“She was a vivacious young lady. She was well-known and well-loved.”
Brinnon resident Karen Sickel said she had known Murray since she was born.
“This is so sad,” she said. “She was so well-loved here. There wasn't a parade that Ruby wasn't in.
“She was an integral part of the community and was always full of joy.”
Said Hernandez: “This is tragic because the community is so small, and everyone knows everyone else.”
“It's a terrible, terrible tragedy that never should have happened and will have a ripple effect in that community that will go on for years.”
Hernandez said emergency dispatchers got the call about the wreck at 2:18 p.m. Sunday, but the caller, one of the passengers, did not know the exact location.
It was on an old state Department of Natural Resources road that connects Lindsay Hill Road and Dabob Road.
Investigators learned that Svetich had a “conversation” with the three passengers in the truck bed — Murray and two 16-year-old girls, who have not been identified — before suddenly throwing the truck into reverse, according to the Sheriff's Office.
He lost control, and the truck pitched over an embankment, ejecting two of the girls while pinning Murray under the truck, sheriff's office reports said.
First responders — which included personnel from the Quilcene Fire Department, Port Ludlow Fire and Rescue, and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office — spent about 30 minutes extricating Murray, who was unconscious, from the wreckage.
Hernandez said Tuesday that he had “never seen my people so shook up.”
He added a caution, “During the hot weather, some people might be a bit more careless and do things like ride in the back of a truck, but things can go bad.”
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.