An interstate 5 bridge collapsed into the Skagit River Thursday evening. The collapse sent tons of concrete and steel into the river, along with two vehicles and three people. Remarkably, no one died, and authorities say all three people rescued had only minor injuries.
Governor Jay Inslee arrived for a late night briefing, and praised the first responders.
Inslee: “We’re at a moment where we just, because of some pretty heroic work, got Washingtonians out of the Skagit River, and that’s something we ought to be celebrating tonight in my view. We can assure Washingtonians we will have an extremely thorough investigation to find out exactly what happened here.”
Just what happened is only beginning to become clear. Officials say a large semi struck the overhead girders that form the bridge’s upper structure. Just after, that span folded up like a letter V, and plunged into the water. The semi driver is being questioned by police.
State officials say the bridge, built in 1955, was old in and in constant need of maintenance. But they say it was inspected and repaired twice last year, and there’s no reason to think it was structurally unsound.
Interstate 5 near Mount Vernon remains closed for the foreseeable future. Governor Inslee urged drivers to avoid that stretch of highway if at all possible.
Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio