Driver identified in fiery Interstate 5 wreck


A local woman has been identified as the driver killed in a fiery wreck Sunday morning on Interstate 5 south of Blaine.

Melissa Ortiz, 19, died about 6 a.m. Sunday when her car flew off a freeway overpass and burst into flames, according to a Washington State Patrol report.

Her name was initially withheld, but Dr. Gary Goldfogel, Whatcom County medical examiner, said her relatives were notified Monday.

Goldfogel said Ortiz lived locally, and that cause and manner of death were under investigation.

Ortiz was driving a green 2004 BMW 330 on northbound Interstate 5 about 1 mile south of Blaine when her car left the freeway and drove in the median for several hundred feet, the state patrol said in a report on the crash.

Her car struck a guardrail on the overpass and sailed into the air, crashing onto West Road about 20 feet below I-5. The car continued north on West Road for 100 feet, landing on its top engulfed in flames.

Ortiz was not wearing a seat belt, the report said.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty