The Tacoma woman who died in a one-car accident on Interstate 5 in Federal Way early Saturday was Chyna J. Thomas, the sister of NBA star Isaiah Thomas, according to friends of the family.
Chyna Thomas, 22, died at the scene of the accident on the freeway’s shoulder, according to the Washington State Patrol, which identified her.
Both the Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas’ team, and the NBA expressed sympathy for the family’s loss. Fans also reached out on social media to register their condolences.
The Boston Globe reported Saturday that Isaiah Thomas took part in the Celtics’ practice on Saturday afternoon, but that he was not aware of the accident at the time. The Globe also quoted a source close to the family who said Thomas was planning to stay in Boston for the Celtics’ NBA playoff game against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.
The wreck occurred around 5 a.m. on southbound Interstate 5 near South 288th Street, the State Patrol said.
Witnesses reported the car, a 1998 Toyota Camry, was being driven normally at first.
“All of a sudden it started to drift very casually onto the left shoulder,” said Trooper Nick King, a State Patrol spokesman.
The car traveled about 50 feet partly off the roadway until it hit a Jersey barrier.
“That vaulted the vehicle head-on into the sign post,” King said.
The car came to rest on top of the barrier and against a large metal pole holding a carpool sign on the freeway’s shoulder. The State Patrol reported Chyna Thomas was not wearing her seat belt.
Her Facebook page profile lists her as a package handler for Federal Express and a former student at Tacoma’s School of the Arts.
Isaiah Thomas is a point guard for the Boston Celtics. He’s a former Curtis High School student and played three years at the University of Washington.