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Information is Power: Investigating the I-5 Bridge Collapse

Updated on: 11/13/2019

The first 48-Hours after a major catastrophe are critical to successfully to answering who, what, how and why. On May 23, 2013, at approximately 7:00 p.m., a semi-truck carrying an oversized load allegedly struck the girders of the Interstate 5 bridge crossing at the Skagit River in Mount Vernon. According to eyewitness Dale Ogden, the forces of impact buckled the bridge’s steel girders causing the bridge to collapse, sending vehicles and their occupants plunging into the 40 degree water below.


As an attorney who has represented individuals and families in the aftermath of catastrophes, I can attest to the importance of an immediate and thorough investigation of the events. In a situation like the Skagit River Bridge Collapse, the following questions immediately come to mind:

  • Who owns the semi-truck?
  • How many hours had the semi-truck driver been behind the wheel?
  • Why did the semi-truck driver not realize his load was too big for the bridge?
  • How fast was the semi-truck traveling when it struck the bridge?
  • Why was the semi-truck traveling in the far right lane?
  • Why did the scout truck ahead of the semi-truck fail to move to the center lane well in advance of the Skagit Bridge?
  • Who planned the trip for the semi-truck?
  • Why was the Skagit Bridge not strong enough to absorb the impact?
  • When was the last time Washington State Department of Transportation inspected the Skagit Bridge?
  • According to records, the Skagit Bridge was built in 1955 and has a sufficiency rating of only 57.4 out of 100, well below the statewide average rating of 80. Why did the government allow a seemingly insufficient bridge to exist on such a busy stretch of Interstate 5?

The ten questions above are only the first that come to mind in a series of potentially hundreds of questions that will need to be answered in order to effectively protect the rights of the victims of the Skagit River Bridge Collapse. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families who will undoubtedly want to know why this preventable tragedy occurred.

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