'Like A Hollywood Movie': Driver Tells Of Plunge As Bridge Colla - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

'Like A Hollywood Movie': Driver Tells Of Plunge As Bridge Collapses

NBCNEWS - A driver said he thought he was about to die when an Interstate 5 bridge span collapsed in Washington state, plunging his pickup and another car into the Skagit River below.

Dan Sligh, his wife and another motorist found themselves waist-deep in water when the freeway crumbled moments after the bridge was clipped by an oversized truck, he told NBC affiliate KING5 of Seattle.

State officials said the rescue had been "amazing" and warned of major traffic disruption following the complete closure of the section of the road, near Mount Vernon.

Sligh, a Command Master Chief Petty Officer with the U.S. Navy, said the accident was "like a Hollywood movie unfolding in front of your eyes - up close and personal."

He said he managed to release his seat belt and climb out of his mangled truck to shallower water, despite fearing he had dislocated his shoulder.

His wife also escaped, and was being kept in the Skagit Valley hospital where she was being treated for internal bleeding.

"I thought we were done," Sligh told KING5 outside the hospital late Thursday. "When I look at all the carnage, all the metal, I assumed that was it at that point. But here we stand."

The couple waited 90 minutes on the roof of pickup awaiting rescue, he said, adding that the other driver was not seriously injured.

"I'm OK. I'm beat up. I feel like I rode a rodeo bull or something."

I-5 is the main freeway that runs up and down the West Coast between the Canadian and Mexican borders, and traffic was significantly backed up in both directions overnight.

The bridge collapse was caused by an oversize truck that hit an overhead span, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said at a news conference, according to the Associated Press. The driver of the truck was cooperating with investigators, Batiste said.

"I'm thankful there were no fatalities," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. "This is an opportunity for us to pull together to show strength of character and patience and good citizenship as we deal with this disruption."

The 1,112-foot steel truss bridge, built in 1955, was described by the Washington State Department of Transportation, after an inspection in August 2010, as "somewhat better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is."

Diversions have been set up and plans are already underway to install a replacement span, said Bart Treece, a spokesman for the department, describing the lack of more serous injuries as "amazing".

The section of the freeway carries 71,000 vehicles a day, he said, warning significant delays were likely over the Memorial Weekend.

"If you can reduce trips or take another route, that would help," he said.

The minimum vertical clearance on the bridge (distance from the road to something a truck can bump into) is 14.5 feet. The standard height is 16 feet.

Inslee's statement added: "We will be involved in a vigorous and diligent effort to get traffic flowing again through the Skagit bridge corridor and I will issue an emergency proclamation [Friday] to make sure we have the resources to do so as quickly as possible."

One study reports that 11.5 percent of the nation's bridges are "structurally deficient," but politics often get in the way of funding infrastructure projects. NBC's Tom Costello reports.

State inspection reports submitted to the Federal Highway Administration were reviewed by NBC News. That overall evaluation of the structural condition on the bridge corresponds to a score of 5 on a scale from 0 (worst) to 9 (best).

The bridge received identical scores on inspections in 2010, 2008 and 2006, and is on a schedule for inspection every 24 months, as generally required by federal regulations. State officials said Thursday evening they were working to make public a copy of the latest inspection report, presumably from 2012.

The bridge was of a "fracture critical" design, as are 18,000 bridges nationwide, meaning it could collapse if even one part failed.

Even after the bridge collapse that killed 13 people in Minneapolis in 2007, a haphazard system of inspections continued, with federal authorities choosing not to require re-inspection of all the fracture-critical bridges.

In a survey of every state by msnbc.com in 2008, only six states and the District of Columbia said they began to recheck all their fracture-critical bridges.

Officials in Washington state, like in most states, said they performed special inspections of only their few dozen bridges of the particular deck-truss design used in Minneapolis.

The bridge that fell Thursday did go on to receive its regular inspections in 2008 and 2010, according to the federal records, called the National Bridge Inventory.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Washington's new DUI-E law takes effect Sunday

    Washington's new DUI-E law takes effect Sunday

    Tuesday, July 18 2017 10:02 PM EDT2017-07-19 02:02:25 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - "He was my youngest, he was my baby bear," Tina Myer said about her son that was killed by a distracted driver. It was a distracted driver that killed Tina Myer's son Cody, hitting the 23-year-old as he was working as a flagger at a construction site in December 2015. He suffered severe injuries, and died several months later. Now Myer is joining Governor Inslee, praising a new DUI-E law.

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - "He was my youngest, he was my baby bear," Tina Myer said about her son that was killed by a distracted driver. It was a distracted driver that killed Tina Myer's son Cody, hitting the 23-year-old as he was working as a flagger at a construction site in December 2015. He suffered severe injuries, and died several months later. Now Myer is joining Governor Inslee, praising a new DUI-E law.

    >>
  • Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington dies at 41, Los Angeles County coroner says

    Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington dies at 41, Los Angeles County coroner says

    Thursday, July 20 2017 2:48 PM EDT2017-07-20 18:48:32 GMT

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington has died, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. Law enforcement officials believe Bennington died by suicide. His body was found hanging inside his residence in Los Angeles shortly before 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.

    >>

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington has died, according to the Los Angeles County coroner. Law enforcement officials believe Bennington died by suicide. His body was found hanging inside his residence in Los Angeles shortly before 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.

    >>
  • Court docs: 3 month old baby with severe brain trauma taken to ICU

    Court docs: 3 month old baby with severe brain trauma taken to ICU

    Wednesday, July 19 2017 8:24 PM EDT2017-07-20 00:24:22 GMT
    Court docs: 3 month old baby with severe brain trauma taken to ICUCourt docs: 3 month old baby with severe brain trauma taken to ICU

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police Officers were called to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital Friday after receiving word that a three month old baby had arrived at the Intensive Care Unit with severe brain trauma. Court documents say the parents took the baby to the Holy Family Hospital, where the injuries were deemed severe. The baby was then taken by ambulance to Sacred Heart. According to the documents, a CPS caseworker says one 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - Spokane Police Officers were called to Sacred Heart Children's Hospital Friday after receiving word that a three month old baby had arrived at the Intensive Care Unit with severe brain trauma. Court documents say the parents took the baby to the Holy Family Hospital, where the injuries were deemed severe. The baby was then taken by ambulance to Sacred Heart. According to the documents, a CPS caseworker says one 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Passing driver saves woman, six kids in car crash on Highway 2

    Passing driver saves woman, six kids in car crash on Highway 2

    Friday, July 21 2017 12:20 AM EDT2017-07-21 04:20:41 GMT

    LINCOLN COUNTY, Wash. - Lincoln County Sheriff's Office is crediting a total stranger from preventing a very possible tragedy. Deputies say a woman was driving a van with 6 young children when she fell asleep on Highway 2 near Davenport, driving off the road and into a pond. As most of the van went under, a passing driver pulled over, waded into the deep water, and helped get them to safety. First responders rushed to the scene.  No one was injured.  

    >>

    LINCOLN COUNTY, Wash. - Lincoln County Sheriff's Office is crediting a total stranger from preventing a very possible tragedy. Deputies say a woman was driving a van with 6 young children when she fell asleep on Highway 2 near Davenport, driving off the road and into a pond. As most of the van went under, a passing driver pulled over, waded into the deep water, and helped get them to safety. First responders rushed to the scene.  No one was injured.  

    >>
  • NOAA locates wreckage of crab fishing vessel off St. George Island, Alaska

    NOAA locates wreckage of crab fishing vessel off St. George Island, Alaska

    Friday, July 21 2017 12:11 AM EDT2017-07-21 04:11:45 GMT
    (NOAA)(NOAA)

    ALASKA - Two NOAA ships, en route to scientific missions in Alaskan waters, helped locate the missing fishing vessel Destination at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation. The Destination and its six crew members were lost February 11, 2017, while fishing for snow crab northwest of St. George, Alaska. NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, a fisheries survey vessel, conducted the first survey from April 30 through May 1. The 

    >>

    ALASKA - Two NOAA ships, en route to scientific missions in Alaskan waters, helped locate the missing fishing vessel Destination at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board of Investigation. The Destination and its six crew members were lost February 11, 2017, while fishing for snow crab northwest of St. George, Alaska. NOAA Ship Oscar Dyson, a fisheries survey vessel, conducted the first survey from April 30 through May 1. The 

    >>
  • Spokane Police Activities League keeps kids out of trouble

    Spokane Police Activities League keeps kids out of trouble

    Friday, July 21 2017 12:07 AM EDT2017-07-21 04:07:28 GMT

    SPOKANE, Wash. - How do you keep your teens out of trouble? The summer has brought a wave of teen crime. From three different vandalism incidents, Spokane Police have arrested a total of eight kids. However, there's a program from Spokane Police that can help these types of kids stay out of trouble. It's called the Spokane Police Activities League. 13-year-old Jamarian Mowrey takes every chance he can get to hang out with the police officers from the program. 

    >>

    SPOKANE, Wash. - How do you keep your teens out of trouble? The summer has brought a wave of teen crime. From three different vandalism incidents, Spokane Police have arrested a total of eight kids. However, there's a program from Spokane Police that can help these types of kids stay out of trouble. It's called the Spokane Police Activities League. 13-year-old Jamarian Mowrey takes every chance he can get to hang out with the police officers from the program. 

    >>