A portion of a bridge on I-5 collapsed into the Skagit River near Mount Vernon, Wash., Thursday, and national and state investigators are working to determine the cause.
Authorities told the Seattle Times that a semitrailer with an oversized load crashed into a steel beam of the fracture-critical bridge at around 7 p.m. Thursday. Two vehicles reportedly fell into the river below along with a section of the bridge. Emergency responders pulled three people from the water and sent them to local hospitals with minor injuries. No fatalities were reported
One of the victims said he saw the semitrailer strike the side of the bridge on southbound I-5.
By 9 p.m., Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) was tweeting about the accident (@wsdot). WSDOT crews planned to have a signed detour in place by 4 a.m. to guide drivers through the area. On Twitter, look for #I-5BridgeCollapse and #SkagitRiverBridge.
Travis Phelps, a spokesman for WSDOT, said it would probably take weeks before that section of I-5 could be open for traffic again. WSDOT and contractors will be looking at all possibilities to get traffic moving.
State officials are investigating the accident, and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators are expected to arrive before noon Friday.
With more than 67,000 drivers using this stretch of I-5 each day, WSDOT asked drivers to avoid the area or expect long backups. Crews will monitor traffic patterns and make adjustments to the detour route as needed.
Once NTSB officials complete their investigation, WSDOT will move forward on removing debris from the Skagit River and replacing the bridge.