Washington I-5 bridge collapse sends vehicles into Skagit River

| May 23, 2013 | 0 Comments

Calgary couple travelled over Riverside Bridge, parallel to the Washington I-5 bridge 30 minutes before collapse

washington I5 bridge

Skagit River Bridge that collapsed Thursday night. Photo: Courtesy King 5.

The four lane Washington I-5 bridge spanning the Skagit River near Mount Vernon, Wash. collapsed Friday evening, sending a number of cars into the river below.

One section of the Skagit River Bridge completely collapsed, cutting off traffic on both sides of the river.  The Washington I-5 bridge  collapse occurred at about 7 p.m.

So far, reports show that three people have been pulled from the water following the Washington I-5 bridge  collapse.  Whatcom County Emergency Response Specialist Marcus Deyerin says authorities are searching downstream by boat and helicopter for more victims.

There are no estimates on how many people are in the water or whether there are any injuries or deaths.

Calgary couple Erik Langberg and Janet Annesley are on vacation in Washington and narrowly missed the accident. Langberg says they travelled over the Skagit River Bridge Wednesday without incident and Thursday were travelling to Burlington, just four minutes north of Mount Vernon, and took the Riverside Bridge, which runs parallel to the collapsed Washington I-5 bridge.

“Ironically we were in the train wreck pub when the waitress told us the news,” said Langberg. “The mood in the place turned sombre and we are happy that reports so far are that no one was hurt.

“It goes to underscore that anything can happen. Its going to make it incovenient for many people over the memorial day long weekend.”

Langberg says the couple is headed to Oregon Friday and plans take the Mukilteo ferry from nearby Whidbey Island to avoid the I-5, which will be busier than ever for the Memorial Day long weekend.

Xavier Grospe, a 62-year old man who lives near the river told the Associated Press he could see three cars in the river, each car carrying one person.  He added the vehicles were sitting still in the water and were partially submerged and partly above the water line.  Drivers were seen either sitting on top of their vehicles or on the edge of open windows.

“It doesn’t look like anybody’s in danger right now,” Grospe said.

Crowds of people came to the river to view the spectacle.

The Skagit River Bridge is located between neighbouring Burlington and Mount Vernon.  It is about 100 kms north of Seattle and approximately 130 kms south of Vancouver, BC.

The bridge was built in 1955 and according to bridgehunter.com, the deck condition was satisfactory while the superstructure condition was rated fair.  Its sufficiency rating was 57 out of 100.  Sufficiency ratings indicate a measure of the ability of a bridge to remain in service.

An average of 71,000 cars travel over the bridge every day.

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Category: USA

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