Crime

Water tanker crash halts I-5 traffic for hours in Bellingham

Video: Water tanker crash on southbound I-5

Crews work to clean up a water tanker crash on southbound I-5 at the Northwest Avenue on-ramp on Wednesday, Oct. 7, in Bellingham, Wash.
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Crews work to clean up a water tanker crash on southbound I-5 at the Northwest Avenue on-ramp on Wednesday, Oct. 7, in Bellingham, Wash.

A semi truck crash snarled freeway traffic for hours Wednesday, Oct. 7, in Bellingham.

The southbound water tanker had been hauling a flatbed trailer and a faded yellow forklift around 1:30 p.m. when the flatbed — caught in the rainstorm — started to weave back and forth on Interstate 5 as it approached the exit to Northwest Drive, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The driver, Robert Allen Brooks, 33, of Everson, lost control as he tried to correct the trailer, said Trooper Eric Goold. The Peterbilt semi, owned by Whatcom Builders, crashed and rolled onto its driver’s side, while the trailer came detached, causing major damage to the forklift.

Brooks, a longtime volunteer fire captain in Nooksack, suffered cuts to his head but no life-threatening injuries. No one else was hurt.

Traffic on the freeway was backed up as far as Slater Road, more than 3 miles to the north, while state Department of Transportation crews shut down the freeway to tow the semi. At least two other less serious crashes in the backup added to the traffic jam.

Both southbound lanes were expected to be blocked for more than three hours. Cars were detoured to city streets.

Troopers were investigating whether Brooks would be cited.

Goold urged drivers to be careful on wet roads, especially when the weather has been dry for a while. Rain after a dry spell can make highways very slick as water mixes with oil and vehicle fluid leftover on the asphalt.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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