Maureen Goff had a hard time processing what she was seeing Wednesday as she drove near downtown Tacoma.
Goff was southbound on Interstate 705, nearing the state Route 509/South 21st Street overpass, when something caught her eye.
“All of a sudden I said, ‘Oh my God!’ ” Goff told The News Tribune. “I saw a car coming over the barrier on 21st Street. You can’t believe what you’re seeing, even though you’re seeing it.”
That car fell 32 feet to the pavement below, killing the driver, a 58-year-old Federal Way man. His name was not released Wednesday, pending notification of his family. He was the only person in the car.
“It was surreal,” said Kraig Goff, 58, who was riding in the passenger seat as his wife drove. “It was almost like it was in slow motion.”
That no one else was hurt in the wreck was a miracle, Maureen Goff said.
“In some ways, God was looking out for other people,” the 63-year-old school teacher said.
Washington State Patrol troopers said the man who was killed apparently lost control of his car about 12:30 p.m. on state Route 509 where it crosses over I-705.
Trooper Guy Gill said the man was westbound on 509, having just crossed the cable bridge over the Thea Foss Waterway, when he began to lose control of his car.
The 2007 Ford Taurus drifted off the right side of the road and hit a couple of concrete barriers before continuing past the onramp to northbound I-705, Gill said.
The Taurus then struck a concrete traffic island on the north side of the overpass “at speed,” which launched the car into the air, a State Patrol report stated. The Taurus cleared a concrete barrier and sailed out over I-705, landing in the northbound lanes.
Gill said it’s possible the driver was suffering from a medical condition at the time as he apparently made no effort to regain control of the car after it hit the first concrete barrier. There were no indications he was steering or braking before he hit the curb, the trooper said.
“It’s consistent with a medical incident. We’ve seen it in the past,” Gill said. “Of course, it will be a while before we know for sure.”
Maureen Goff pulled over after seeing the crash, and her husband got out to try to help the driver.
Kraig Goff said several other motorists also stopped to render aid, including a man who sprayed down the wrecked car with a fire extinguisher to prevent a fire, but the Taurus driver died at the scene. Troopers said he was wearing his seat belt.
“I feel so sorry for that man and his family,” Kraig Goff said of the victim.