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Investigation: Semi driver who caused I-5 crash was asleep at the wheel

A crash blocked all lanes of southbound Interstate 5 south of Bellingham for several hours Thursday morning.
A crash blocked all lanes of southbound Interstate 5 south of Bellingham for several hours Thursday morning. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Authorities said the driver of a semitrailer was asleep at the wheel early Thursday when he crossed the Interstate 5 median into the opposing lanes and was struck by a southbound double-trailer.

“The causing driver fell asleep,” Washington State Patrol Trooper Heather Axtman said Friday.

Thursday’s wreck at southbound I-5 near Nulle Road injured one person and snarled the morning commute with a backup that stretched 2 1/2 miles.

Richard J. Brush, 62, of Vancouver, Washington, was rushed by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital, and taken later Thursday by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was in serious condition Friday. He remained in the hospital’s intensive care unit, said Harborview spokeswoman Susan Gregg.

According to the WSP report on the wreck, Daljit S. Mundi, 24, of Delta, B.C., was diving a northbound 2016 Volvo truck owned by Misty Blue Transport of Surrey, B.C. He was hauling indoor gardening supplies, said Misty Blue’s owner, Darinder Singh.

Mundi crossed the grassy median about 2:20 a.m. and jackknifed, where he was struck by Brush’s truck, a 2007 Volvo hauling two trailers owned by YRC Freight of Overland Park, Kansas.

Axtman said WSP’s Commercial Vehicle Division is examining Mundi’s records to make sure he had taken the required breaks. She said investigators probably will decide next week whether to charge Mundi with criminal reckless driving or a lesser infraction, such as negligent driving.

Early reports indicated that car was involved, but officials said it likely was driven by a witness who was not part of the collision.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty

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