I-5 Bridge Collapses After Tractor-Trailer Hit, Circumstances Unknown (+Videos)

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
May 24, 2013 Updated: May 24, 2013

I-5 bridge collapses: A truck hauling a too-tall load hit an overhead girder of a bridge on the major thoroughfare between Seattle and Canada, sending a section of the span and two vehicles into the Skagit River below, though all three occupants suffered only minor injuries.

It happened about 7 p.m. Thursday on the north part of the four-lane Interstate 5 bridge near Mount Vernon, about 60 miles north of Seattle and 40 miles south of the Canada border, and disrupted travel in both directions.

Initially, it wasn’t clear if the bridge just gave way on its own. But at an overnight news conference, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste blamed it on two tractor-trailers carrying an oversize load that hit an upper part of the span. The vertical clearance from the roadway to the beam is 14.6 feet.

“For reasons unknown at this point in time, the semi struck the overhead of the bridge causing the collapse,” Batiste said. Investigators are trying to find out how this happened.

Transportation officials are working on plans for either a temporary or permanent replacement

Governor Jay Inslee said three people were removed from the river and taken to hospitals, with no casualties reported.

Rescue teams launched boats and rescued the three people, while divers searched for any other people. No others were found, and it is believed there were no others.

Dan Sligh, who was driving on the bridge before a section of it collapsed, said that his truck went right off the bridge and landed in the river. His shoulder was dislocated, and the truck’s roof was caved in.

He and his wife were being treated for injuries at a local hospital. “Rough day,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.