Two semis collide; shuts down southbound I-5 for hours

A crash was blocking all lanes of southbound Interstate 5 Thursday morning, Nov. 30, south of Bellingham, Washington.
A crash was blocking all lanes of southbound Interstate 5 Thursday morning, Nov. 30, south of Bellingham, Washington. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Southbound Interstate 5 was closed for more than 7 hours Thursday morning south of Bellingham when a northbound semitrailer crossed the median and hit a southbound double-trailer semi head-on.

The driver of the southbound semi, Richard J. Brush, 62, of Vancouver, Washington, was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital, said Assistant Chief Rod Topel of South Whatcom Fire Authority.

Brush was later taken by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was listed in serious condition Thursday afternoon. He was moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit, said hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg.

She said it wasn’t unusual for non-critical patients to receive ICU care, because it allows medical staff to provide more efficient treatment of certain injuries.

Firefighters used hydraulic spreaders to free Brush from the crumpled semi’s cab, Topel said.

A Washington State Patrol report said the crash occurred about 2:20 a.m. Thursday near the Nulle Road exit – Daljit S. Mundi, 24, of Delta, B.C., crossed from northbound I-5 into the southbound lanes and hit Brush’s truck. The southbound semi was pulling two trailers owned by YRC Freight of Overland Park, Kansas.

Both drivers were wearing their seat belts, according to the state patrol report.

Early reports indicated a car was involved, but there was no mention of the car in the state patrol report released later.

WSP Trooper Heather Axtman said southbound traffic was diverted at the Samish Way exit. A Washington State Department of Transportation official reported a 2.5-mile backup for the morning commute.

Southbound lanes opened about 9:45 a.m. and traffic returned to normal by about 10:15 a.m., WSDOT said.

Brush’s truck was a 2007 Volvo and Mundi’s truck was a 2016 Volvo, owned by Misty Blue Transport of Surrey, B.C.

Cause of the crash and possible charges were undetermined pending an investigation, the state patrol report said.

Misty Blue’s owner, Darinder Singh, said the driver called from the crash scene and said his truck skidded on the road. Singh said the truck was hauling indoor gardening supplies.

“I asked what happened and he said, ‘My truck slipped,’ ” Singh said.

According to National Weather Service records, light rain was falling in Bellingham at the time.

Officials at YRC Freight didn’t immediately return a phone call asking about their truck’s contents.

The Bellingham Herald reporter Robert Mittendorf is a volunteer firefighter with South Whatcom Fire Authority.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty