A final report on the 11-vehicle pileup that injured at least two people last week on Interstate 5 shows that six drivers were ticketed for driving too fast for conditions, officials said.
The Washington State Patrol’s lead investigator said it was a chain reaction of collisions – mostly rear-enders caused by drivers who couldn’t stop in time during heavy commuter traffic in the pre-dawn darkness.
“Basically there are six separate crashes that ended up happening pretty much the same time,” said Trooper Chris Mendoza.
Six drivers were cited for driving too fast for conditions, which is a $187 ticket, said Trooper Heather Axtman. She said one driver was cited for driving without insurance, a $550 ticket.
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Most seriously injured was a 9-year-old girl with a head wound that required 29 stitches, the state patrol said. Bellingham firefighters took her by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital and she was released after two days.
Also injured was a Bellingham woman who also went by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital, where she was treated and released for a back injury, hospital and state patrol officials said. A third person sought medical treatment in a private vehicle.
No single driver was at fault, according to the report.
But the first crash happened as steady rain fell just before 8 a.m. Jan. 8 when Thomas G. Dyehouse of Camas slowed his 1996 Honda Accord for a tow truck in the lane ahead and was rear-ended by a 2006 Ford F150 pickup driven by Jorge A. Araiza-Estrada of Lynwood.
Each successive wreck occurred as drivers slowed and were rear-ended or as other drivers swerved and hit vehicles broadside or from behind, Mendoza wrote in his report.
As the driver of a Volvo braked to avoid the first collision, he was rear-ended by a Porsche. Both cars smashed into Araiza-Estrada’s pickup and the pileup continued behind them.
“People need to actually slow down and give that extra following distance,” Axtman said.
Most of the wreckage was in the fast lane of northbound I-5 between the Lakeway Drive on-ramp and the Iowa Street exit, according to the report.
Traffic instantly slowed to standstill as a line of idling cars stretched south to Old Fairhaven Parkway.
It took nearly three hours for police officers, firefighters, tow-truck drivers and others to treat the injured, investigate the incident, remove the wreckage and reopen the freeway.