The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 24, 2013

I-5 bridge collapse caused by truck hitting span

(Continued)

Sligh said his shoulder was dislocated in the drop into the water, and he found himself "belly deep in water in the truck." He said he popped his shoulder back in and called out to his wife, who he described as being in shock initially as they waited for rescuers to arrive in boats.

Traffic along the heavily travelled route could be affected for some time.

"The I-5 corridor is totally disrupted," said Gov. Jay Inslee, who went to the scene Thursday night.

"Thanks to the rescuers and a little bit of luck, we had three Skagitonians who made it out of the Skagit River alive," Inslee said.

The bridge was inspected twice last year and repairs were made, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said.

"It's an older bridge that needs a lot of work just like a good number of bridges around the state," she said.

Transportation officials are working on plans for either a temporary or permanent replacement, she said.

The National Transportation Safety Board was sending an investigative team.

Trooper Francis said the portion of the four-lane bridge over the Skagit River collapsed about 7 p.m. Thursday.

Jeremiah Thomas, a volunteer firefighter, said he was driving nearby when he glimpsed something out of the corner of his eye and turned to look.

"The bridge just went down, it crashed through the water," he said. "It was really surreal."

The bridge was about 50 feet above the water. Deyerin said it appeared that two vehicles — a car and the pickup with the travel trailer attached — fell into the river. He said the water depth was about 15 feet, and the vehicles half-visible in the water likely were resting on portions of the collapsed bridge.

Crowds of people lined the river to watch the scene unfold.

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