Friday, May 24, 2013
The Washington State Patrol chief says the Interstate 5 bridge collapse into the Skagit River at Mount Vernon was caused by an oversize truck.
Chief John Batiste told an overnight news conference that the truck hit an overhead span. The truck made it off the bridge and the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.
Two other vehicles went into the water Thursday evening as the bridge collapsed. Three people were rescued and are recovering.
Officials said drivers should expect delays at the break in the major north-south highway about 60 miles north of Seattle. Detours have been set up to try to ease the congestion.
An Interstate 5 bridge over a river collapsed north of Seattle Thursday evening, dumping two vehicles into the water and sparking a rescue effort by boats and divers as three injured people were pulled from the chilly waterway.
Authorities said it appeared nobody was killed in the bridge failure that raised the question about the safety of aging spans and cut off the main route between Seattle and Canada.
"We don't think anyone else went into the water," said Marcus Deyerin, a spokesman for the Northwest Washington Incident Management Team. "At this point we're optimistic."
A man and a woman were reported in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries in the emergency room at Skagit Valley Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Kari Ranten said. Another man was reported in stable condition at United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, hospital CEO Greg Reed said. He said he didn't know whether the man would be admitted.
Survivor Dan Sligh and his wife were driving their pickup truck when he said the bridge disappeared before them in a "big puff of dust."
"I hit the brakes and we went off the bridge," Sligh told reporters from Skagit Valley Hospital, adding he "saw the water approaching ... you hold on as tight as you can."
Traffic along the heavily-travelled route could be impacted for some time.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
The Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River at Mount Vernon collapsed Thursday evening, dumping vehicles and people into the water, the Washington State Patrol said.
Both the northbound and southbound portions of the bridge dropped into the river sometime before 7 p.m., according to trooper Mark Francis.
Francis said several cars were on the bridge when it collapsed, and some are now in the water.
Xavier Grospe, 62, who lives near the river, said he could see three cars with what appeared to be one person per vehicle. The vehicles were sitting still in the water, partially submerged and partly above the waterline, and the apparent drivers were sitting either on top of the vehicles or on the edge of open windows.
"It doesn't look like anybody's in danger right now," Grospe said.
It's unclear how many people were injured in the collapse, but at least one person has been rescued.
Rescue crews are on the water in at least three boats tending to a semi-submerged car and truck, both of which are tangled in the wreckage of the bridge.
Bart Treece with the Washington State Department of Transportation was unsure when the bridge was last inspected.
"All of our bridges in the area are pretty old," he said.
Washington state was given a C in the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 infrastructure report card and a C- when it came to the state's bridges. The group said more than a quarter of Washington's 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient of functionally obsolete.
Southbound traffic is being routed off at State Route 9, while northbound traffic is being routed off at George Hopper, according to WSDOT.