Poulsbo Fire lieutenant struck by car while bicycling, dies later at Harborview

POULSBO — A Poulsbo Fire Department lieutenant was struck by a car and killed while cycling July 2 after he apparently failed to stop at a stop sign July 2.

Joseph Vlach, 77, was bicycling southbound on State Route 3 and exited to State Route 308 at about 4:53 p.m. According to a report from Washington State Patrol, Vlach “failed to stop at the stop sign at the end of the ramp and proceeded to eastbound State Route 308.” According to the report, Vlach was wearing a bicycle helmet.

Vlach was struck by a Hyundai Sonata driven by a 21-year-old Keyport man. Vlach was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he died.

The incident is still under investigation; no charges had been filed as of noon July 3.

Poulsbo Fire Department issued the following statement on its Facebook page, “We are saddened to say that Lt. Joe Vlach, a longtime volunteer of 33 years, has passed away as the result of a bicycle accident yesterday. We are all in a state of disbelief that we have lost this man, a great member of the department, grandfather, dad and loving husband. He was a loved member of the community and a careless giver of his time to others, he has touched many members of the community and will be missed.”

On the same Facebook page, firefighters commented on the loss to the department and the community.

“I woke this morning full of sadness over the loss of a friend yesterday,” Captain Chris Rahl wrote. “He was a friend to all that knew him and there was nothing he wouldn’t do for his community, family, and friends. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and my fire service brothers and sisters that did everything they could for him in his final moments. I’ll miss you Joe :).”

Firefirefighter Tim Quitsland wrote, “I am kind of at a loss. He was a huge part of my upbringing in the fire service. As he was to everyone that came through the doors of Poulsbo Fire Department.”