At least one motorist is dead after a pickup truck smashed into the back of a state snowplow Tuesday night and burst into flames, authorities said.
Witnesses said the compact truck was speeding south on U.S. Highway 195 shortly before 9 p.m. when it crashed into the snowplow between Hatch and Mullen Hill roads. The plow was parked along the side of the highway, but was still partially in one of the lanes with its lights on, said Washington State Patrol Trooper Troy Briggs.
The plow driver was not in the cab at the time, and was uninjured.
Briggs said it appears just one person was in the pickup truck but that the driver’s identity is unknown at this point. The wreckage was so badly charred that neither the license plate nor vehicle identification numbers were legible, nor have investigators been able to locate identification. A special accident investigation team from Western Washington is being dispatched to the scene, Briggs said.
A woman at the scene said the truck was traveling at least 80 mph when it passed her car on the highway, then crashed into the back of the snowplow. “It exploded on impact,” she said of the pickup truck.
Southbound lanes of the highway were expected to be blocked until early today as investigators combed the scene for clues.
Briggs said fiery crashes are uncommon.
“It’s something you see a lot in the movies,” he said Tuesday night at the scene. “In real life, it’s actually very rare to have a vehicle catch fire.”
In addition to the Washington State Patrol, Spokane County sheriff’s deputies, Spokane firefighters and emergency medical crews were expected to be at the scene throughout the night.