UPDATE | JULY 20, 2016, 8AM
On July 19, 2016, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) released an accident report for a Monday evening five-car, chain reaction collision that caused two vehicles to burst into blames, nearly taking the life of a 70-year old woman if not for the quick reaction of North Bend resident and off-duty Seattle Police Officer, JD Smith.
According to the report, the five cars involved were traveling eastbound on I-90 approaching the SR 18 interchange when traffic slowed ahead of a 25-year old male driver, which then caused a Ford F150 pickup to collide with a late-model sedan driven by the 70-year old woman – and her car to also strike another vehicle which in turn then hit another car.
The third car involved collided with the car that had initially slowed and triggered the chain reaction – then it left the roadway to the right and struck a fifth car.
The F150 and sedan came to rest blocking the two right lanes and then became engulfed in flames. The other three vehicles involved ended up coming to a rest blocking only the far right lane. In total, the roadway was blocked for nearly two hours. The drivers involved were from Des Moines, Kent and Maple Valley.
According to Q13 FOX News, the injured 70-year old woman remains at Harborview Medical Center, but in out of intensive care. She suffered broken bones and facial lacerations that required 150 stitches.
Two other injured drivers were taken to Swedish in Issaquah and Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue. There is no word on their conditions, but WSP did report on the day of the accident that their injuries were not as serious as the woman’s.
WSP stated the accident did result in some charges, including speed too fast for the conditions, driving with a suspended license and with no insurance. Their report, though, did not say which driver was facing which charges.
Via email, 5th District State Senator Mark Mullet said he would be contacting WSDOT about the possibility of installing warning near the approach to SR 18 in an effort to warn drivers of the slow traffic that is routine on this stretch of I-90 during afternoon/evening commute hours – at least until the permanent interchange improvements occur.
The state estimates funding those improvements, including flyover ramps and widening SR 18 over Tiger Mt., in 2023. Local lawmakers, though, are trying to push up the funding timeline.
Eastside Firefighters tweeted around 6PM, July 18, 2016, that they were on the scene of a multiple-vehicle collision near the I-90/SR 18 interchange, just west of SR 18 on eastbound I-90. Initial reports said the accident involved three vehicles and resulted in two catching fire, as well as serious injuries.
Crews extinguished the fire with a fast response, but the scene was pretty dramatic for passing drivers. The accident happened right before exit 25 where the lineup of cars waiting to merge onto westbound SR 18 is regularly stretches onto 70mph I-90.
WSDOT said all eastbound lanes were initially blocked as fire and aid responded. Witnesses said some occupants were cleared of the burning vehicles by firefighters and transported by ambulance from the scene.
At 6:30PM, WSDOT said a left lane near the accident scene was reopened, but that drivers should still avoid the area or expect long delays. They suggested eastbound SR 202 or SR 18 as alternates around the area.
Residents near the scene reported traffic was backed up more than two miles.
The Washington State Patrol said one person suffered serious injuries and two others sustained minor injuries in the collision.
According to Bellevue Firefighters Facebook page, Engine 73, 74, 281, Ladder 72, Medic 14, Aid 71, 74, MSO 5, and Battalion 71 responded to the dramatic collision scene, with crews seeing a visible thermal column while en route. Upon arrival victims were cleared of burning vehicles, treated by firefighters and paramedics and then transported to area hospitals
The Snoqualmie Fire Department also responded to the accident.
According to KOMO News, an off-duty Seattle Police Officer on his way home helped pull one person from a burning vehicle.