Local News

Truck may have brought down I-5 bridge over Washington river; only 3 injuries

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. — A portion of an Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River, about 60 miles north of Seattle, collapsed Thursday, sending three vehicles and people plunging into the cold water at least 50 -feet below.

When rescuers arrived, people were sitting on top of their submerged cars. The water is about 18 feet deep where the bridge collapse took place.

Amazingly, there were no fatalities, Skagit County authorities said. Three people were pulled from the river and taken to Skagit Valley Hospital and United General Hospital; two were reported to be in stable condition, the other had minor injuries and was being released Thursday night.

The victims, 48-year-old Daniel Sligh, his wife Sallettee Sligh, 56, and 20-year-old Bryce Kenning, managed to survive the incident with only minor injuries.

The driver of the semi was identified as 42-year-old William Scott of Alberta, Canada.

This section of I-5 runs between the Washington cities of Burlington and Mount Vernon. Preliminary reports showed an over-sized truck hitting the bridge was the initial cause for the collapse

bridge6” I just heard back from our state bridge engineer who said an over-sized load struck the bridge, and that was the cause of the collapse,”  said Bart Treece, an official with the Washington State Department of Transportation.

A large semitrailer was seen parked on the side of the road north of the bridge, but it was unclear if that was the truck that might have struck the bridge. The semi driver was investigated by Washington State Patrol troopers. The company that owned the semi said they had a working permit to cross the bridge with an over-sized load.

Both the northbound and southbound lanes of the northern section of the bridge collapsed at about 7 p.m.

Inslee later told a news conference that repairing the bridge is “job No. 1″ and that it’s unknown how long it will take to replace the bridge. I-5 is a main north-south arterial for northwestern Washington state. He authorized the Transportation Department to establish detour routes to minimize impact on traffic and commerce.

“Witnesses say a truck hit the bridge and caused it to collapse, but an investigation has been launched to confirm that,” Inslee said. “Any witnesses or people with information should contact the State Patrol.

The NTSB arrived on the scene Friday to evaluate the damage.

Goskagit.com said one driver who had just crossed the bridge shortly before it collapsed told a reporter he felt a vibration and looked in his rear view mirror to see that the section of bridge he had just crossed was no longer behind him.

“I thought something was wrong with my car at first,” the man told the reporter about feeling the vibration.


Photo: Jacob O’Reilly/Twitter

The bridge was built in 1955, was inspected last November and it received passing grades, Treece said.

Mount Vernon Christian Schools canceled class for all students on Friday.


The I-5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed Thursday. (Photo: Dusty Starling/twitter)


39 Comments to “Truck may have brought down I-5 bridge over Washington river; only 3 injuries”

    Shaun said:
    May 23, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    Mt. Vernon and Burlington just became the 2 richest cites in Washington State.
    LAWSUITS this is a federal bridge!

      Linda said:
      May 23, 2013 at 8:04 PM

      And weren't they suppose to check all of the bridges after what happened a few years ago in another state with a bridge?

      Shaun said:
      May 23, 2013 at 8:13 PM

      Of course Linda, what bothers me is that Obamas' Stimulus Package paid for an "Over-Pass" in Smokey Point that doesn't have off or on ramps. But now a major bridge that is a major route for all Americans (not to mention Canadians) is completely detoured through the worst "town" traffic in this state.

        BD in PDX said:
        May 23, 2013 at 11:42 PM

        Several decades worth of deferred maintenance. Blame Congress. If you don't believe me, check out the thousands of bridges on the repair/replace list. You'll find several more on a highway near you. http://t4america.org/resources/bridges/overview/

    justme said:
    May 23, 2013 at 8:02 PM

    Um yea the bridge was probably rigged by the state so they could have justification to pass the new bill they're pushing through which is the gas tax hike that goes towards roads and bridges… hmmm….

    T. Seyl said:
    May 23, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    WSDOT fails again. Maybe this time it was not intentionally neglected or hidden damage that caused the failure. My best wishes and sympathies to the people involved and their families.

    Devyn said:
    May 23, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    We should not settle for satisfactory. This is what happens when we settle for Satisfactory. We use that bridge to go see our dad and now we have to find an alternate route because the WSDOT could not take care of this bridge and keep it in safe condition

    nick said:
    May 23, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    An oversized truck hit the railing and caused the collapse. my uncle witnessed it about 10 cars back

    Angel said:
    May 23, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    A bridge should be able to withstand impact from a large truck or it isn’t safe. Seriously I’m so fed up with this state. They cannot fix potholes let alone bridges or ferries but somehow manage to add bike lanes everywhere & public art. Sick of this. God help the families & the responders.

    JKok said:
    May 23, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Okay, national news people, it's a soft "g" in Skagit. Say it "ska – jit."

    Screen man said:
    May 23, 2013 at 10:45 PM

    Are you kidding me????? Even IF the truck did bit the bridge, too tall or too wide…. This MEANS that the BRIDGE was weak to begin with !!!!! PATHETIC!!!!!!!!!!
    I am SO sick of all the BS n the media right now!!!!

    tris said:
    May 23, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    Please remember this is a federal bridge. We already replaced our unsafe bridges remember? We even made them pretty bye putting flowers on them. We need to place blame to the right people so this doe not happen again. http://t4america.org/resources/bridges/overview/

    Robert said:
    May 24, 2013 at 5:22 AM

    Clearly this is Obama's fault for not making sure the bridge was properly designed and constructed. Just like the last one was Bush's fault. Or maybe we can blame bush for this one too.

    worldd said:
    May 24, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    thank god no one died.

    go here said:
    February 20, 2014 at 1:56 PM

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