UPDATE: The Washington State Patrol (WSP) says that the driver of the semi-truck was interviewed by a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) officer and was not found to be impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the collision. Thurston County Coroner Gary Warnock also recently identified the men who were killed in the collision.
ORIGINAL STORY: Two people were killed and at least three more suffered significant injuries Tuesday night after a serious crash involving two semi-trucks on Interstate 5 near Marvin Road in Lacey.
According to Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers, one of the semi-trucks involved was traveling northbound on I-5 in the middle lane when traffic suddenly began to slow down. The driver attempted to stop the truck but could not stop in time, and the driver lost control of the vehicle.
WSP Releases Details About Fatal Crash
Officials say the semi-truck hit several vehicles and then jack-knifed before eventually coming to rest on the passenger side of the vehicle, sprawling across several lanes of traffic. As you can see from the photo above, the truck’s cab ended up in the median and the trailer was blocking nearly the entire freeway.
When the semi-truck tipped over, the trailer fell on top of a 2015 Kia Soul sedan that was carrying at least two occupants inside. The Kia was crushed by the weight of the trailer, and two people inside - the 50-year-old driver and a 47-year-old passenger, both men from Tacoma - were reportedly killed as a result of that collision.
There were at least 10 vehicles involved in the crash, several of which were struck by the semi-truck before it tipped over and landed on top of the sedan. At least three other people had to be taken to nearby hospitals for medical treatment, though WSP officials did not release any information about the extent of their injuries.
Liability in Semi-Truck Crashes
The portion of the freeway where the fatal crash occurred was shut down for nearly 12 hours as investigators worked to examine and collect evidence from the scene. All lanes of Interstate 5 were finally reopened by 5 a.m. Wednesday.
The official results of the investigation will likely paint a clearer picture about all of the facts of the crash and any contributing factors that may have been involved. However, WSP officials have already provided a glimpse into what may have been the cause of this tragic collision by speaking with reporters at the scene.
Trooper Corey West indicated to reporters that there had been rain and that a reader-board on the highway was actively warning drivers of the traffic slowdown. West also told reporters that the semi-truck driver was traveling too fast for conditions in the moments leading up to the crash.
All of the statements provided by police officials seem to suggest that the semi-truck driver will be held responsible for causing the fatal crash. Since there was an active warning of the traffic slowdown and semi-truck drivers are trained extensively on how to drive safely in adverse weather conditions, it will be important for police to determine exactly why the driver involved in this crash was driving too fast for conditions. Driver distraction, driver fatigue, and the pressure for truck drivers to be as efficient as possible are all common factors that contribute to fatal semi-truck crashes.