Joseph Bidot, a member of the South Puget Sound Community College welding program, lost his life in a head-on collision while driving on Yelm Highway June 1. He was 19 years old.
He was driving eastbound on Yelm Highway, in a 1994 Honda Prelude. Less than a mile east of Spurgeon Creek Road S.E., Bidot’s vehicle crossed the double center line and struck a 2007 Chrysler PT Cruiser head on. Responding EMTs announced Bidot dead at the scene.
The driver of the PT Cruiser is a 32 year-old man from Tumwater. He was transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital with severe injuries, although according to the Washington State Patrol he should survive and recover from his injuries.
Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts and local police report that neither alcohol nor drugs seem to have lead to the collision, the cause of which is still under investigation.
Bidot enjoyed his welding classes at SPSCC and wanted a job in this field. However, “in the future he did want to go to school for automotive [studies]” said his mother, Ms. Cary Bidot.
Ms. Bidot works for the Information Services team at SPSCC, and is responsible for the successful conversion of our administrative computing system that has taken place over the last few months.
Joseph’s former professors, John Goss and Ryan Fowler, say that he will be missed.
“He was really well liked. He had a great personality, he was a fun guy,” said Fowler.
He had just begun his second year in SPSCC’s welding program and was doing very well, but his excellence lied in fixing machinery. Joseph was working with oxy-acetylene, flux-core, and stick welding, but according to Goss, Bidot was “mechanically superb.”
To honor Joseph’s memory, the welding program will be creating a memorial in his name. They are planning on placing at least one piece dedicated to him on the metal shear, the machine through which Joseph dedicated so much to the program.
According to Ms. Bidot, Joseph grew up in Olympia with a brother and sister, and graduated from Yelm High school. He was interested in cars from a young age.
“When kids would take stuffed animals to bed he would take his toy cars,” she said.
Although he did not play sports, Joseph was interested in collecting matchbox cars and helping his cousins work on automobiles while growing up.
One of Joseph’s biggest accomplishments was his work on the metal cutting shear, a machine that is approximately six feet tall and eight feet wide. He spent four months taking it almost completely apart for repairs.
“Every time something would break down, he’d be the guy to get on there and fix it, which he did wonderfully,” said Fowler.
Joseph’s positive attitude in class also made an impression on his classmates and professors.
When talking about Joseph’s work on the metal cutting shear, Goss said, “There probably aren’t a whole lot of people who would want to do that– because not only was he able to do it, but he was willing to. He enjoyed doing it. A lot of people get tired before they finish it all, and he was enthusiastic about working on it each day.”
Because of Joseph’s passion for mechanics and friendly personality, his death has cast a shadow over the welding program.
“Everybody knew him in some way,” said Fowler. “He was really well liked.”
Although people are beginning to recover from the shock of the accident, they “still kind of have that cloud hanging over the class,” Fowler said.
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration the average number of traffic deaths per year from 1997 to 2001 was 650.6, and from 2002 to 2006 was 621.4, a 4.5 percent decrease. Similarly, the traffic fatality rate per 100 million vehicle-miles traveled has been decreasing. Over the last several years, the statewide vehicle-miles-traveled have also been decreasing. Washington’s rate remains well below the national average.