3-vehicle crash on I-5 in Federal Way adds to traffic woes; backup is 9 miles

A 3-car collision involving a semi-truck, RV and car blocked southbound Interstate 5 in Federal Way.
A 3-car collision involving a semi-truck, RV and car blocked southbound Interstate 5 in Federal Way. Courtesy

A 3-car collision Thursday afternoon on Interstate 5 in Federal Way involving a semitruck, a motor home and a car sent two people to the hospital, including one by helicopter, according to Washington State Patrol.

The motor home was in the second lane to the left going southbound on I-5 about 1 p.m. and was unable to stop quickly enough to avoid a car as the motor home swerved into the lane to its right, Trooper Rick Johnson said. The car was propelled underneath the back end of a box truck.

The accident happened just north of the exit to state Route 18.

The driver of the car, a 45-year-old Sumner man, was able to escape on his own, but the passenger, a 45-year-old woman from Arlington, Texas, was trapped in the burning car before good Samaritans with fire extinguishers helped a State Patrol trooper to knock the fire down, Johnson said.

After being extricated from the car, she was flown by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with an upper spine injury and burns to her right leg, Johnson said. She is in critical condition.

The driver was taken to Harborview Medical Center by ambulance but appeared to have minor injuries, Johnson said.

Troopers determined that the driver of the motor home was not intoxicated, although it looks as if that driver was at fault, Johnson said.

All of the southbound lanes of I-5 were closed until 2:15 p.m., and some lanes remain closed as of 3:30 p.m., when there was still a 5-mile backup, according to the Washington state Department of Transportation. The southbound ramp to SR 18 was closed until 1:40 p.m.

All lanes of I-5 reopened about 5:45 p.m., Johnson tweeted. There was a 9-mile traffic backup behind the accident at one point, WSDOT spokeswoman Karen Mitchell said.

The accident followed an earlier one, in which a semitruck hauling fuel overturned while trying to get onto Interstate 5 about 9:15 a.m., closing the highway for more than three hours and snarling traffic throughout the region.

Kenny Ocker: 253-597-8627, @KennyOcker