A multi-car pileup injured two people and turned northbound Interstate 5 into a parking lot during the Monday morning commute through Bellingham, officials said.
“It’s a mess out there,” Washington State Patrol Trooper Heather Axtman said shortly after the 8 a.m. Monday wreck, which involved about a dozen cars on I-5 just south of the Iowa Street crossing. “Five to 10 tow trucks are needed.”
It took crews nearly three hours to remove the wreckage and completely reopen the freeway.
Northbound traffic was at a standstill as far back as Old Fairhaven Parkway during the cleanup and investigation. Cars were diverted onto Samish Way and finally turned around to Lakeway Drive, officials said.
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Bellingham Fire Department officials said about 14 firefighters were at the scene.
Two people went by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital, he said.
“We had several crews and evaluated several folks,” said Assistant Chief Bill Hewett. “We had one (seriously injured) patient and one (less seriously hurt) patient, but no one with life-threatening injuries.”
Guin Raikes-Sloan of Stanwood was headed to her job in Bellingham when she faced a sea of brake lights just before dawn. She sat motionless for 90 minutes, she said.
“(It was) wet, raining but not super hard,” Raikes-Sloan wrote on Facebook. “Visibility was fine, overcast and a little dark but not bad. When we were allowed to turn around, I turned and the vehicles exited via the Lakeway on ramp.”
Johnathen Williams said he called 911 as the cars collided behind him.
“I heard a loud pop sound, which were the truck’s tires,” he wrote on Facebook. “What happened was we we’re driving at normal speeds then all the sudden about six seconds in front of me someone slammed on their brakes, which in turn caused us all to stop very quickly.”
Washington Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol officials said one lane of traffic opened about 10 and and both lanes opened about 11 a.m.