One person died and eight people were injured in a chain-reaction collision southwest of Spokane as holiday travel got underway this morning.
Trooper Jeff Sevigney, of the Washington State Patrol, said the series of three accidents appeared to have been caused by icy conditions on the road and drivers traveling too fast for the conditions.
“People need to use caution,” he said. “It’s wintertime in the Northwest.”
He said an eastbound pickup truck lost control at an overpass crossing Medical Lake-Four Lakes Road.
The pickup crossed the median and headed into oncoming traffic, striking a guardrail on the north side of the freeway, but also clipping a westbound semi-truck.
After colliding with the pickup truck, the semi driver continued across the median into the eastbound lanes and collided with a 2009 Toyota Prius, killing a passenger in that vehicle.
She was identified as Herlinda Alzate-Barrera, 38, of Mattawa. She died at the scene.
The driver, Marvin C. Williamson, 61, of Moses Lake, and a second passenger, Lorenzo Alzate-Rojas, 15, of Mattawa, were undergoing treatment at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center this evening.
The semi also collided with another car before crashing through a guardrail and down an embankment. The cab came to rest on one lane of Medical Lake-Four Lakes Road.
The truck and its trailer, which was loaded with heavy metal plates, were sprawled across the embankment and the county road.
Debris was strewn across the freeway and on the embankment. Parts of the trailer axle were severed. A hunk of concrete was broken off the end of the overpass guard rail.
Both the eastbound lanes of I-90 and all lanes of Medical Lake-Four Lakes Road were closed for hours. Troopers reopened one of the eastbound freeway lanes about 12:30 p.m. and then both eastbound lanes an hour after that.
Westbound traffic was moving slowly, but stacked up dangerously as travelers headed out for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Late today, troopers and hospital officials provided updates on the survivors.
The pickup driver was Jose Mendoza, 44, with passenger Jonathan Mendoza, 26, both of Walla Walla. They were in a 2006 Nissan pickup.
The driver of the 2003 Peterbilt semi was identified as Gerry J. Tosoff, 60, with passenger Donna M. Tosoff, 59, both of Chilliwack, B.C.
The second passenger car, a 2009 Subaru Outback, was driven by Larry Yount, 63, with passenger Darla D. Yount, 52, both of Clark Fork.
All eight survivors were taken by ambulance to Sacred Heart.
A spokesman at Sacred Heart said Donna Yount had been admitted to the hospital and was in satisfactory condition.
The others were being treated in the emergency room.
All were wearing seat belts, including the deceased, troopers said.
After the multi-vehicle crash, a separate collision involving a pickup truck and a service van occurred about 9:50 a.m. northeast of the Cheney exit in the westbound lanes at the point where free flowing traffic encountered the backup from the accident.
No injuries occurred in that wreck, troopers said.
Initially, there were no emergency vehicles in position to warn approaching motorists of the backup.
The accidents leading to the fatality and injuries occurred at 8:02 a.m.
Sevigney said the eight peoples’ injuries were non-life-threatening.
Eastbound I-90 was being detoured through the city of Medical Lake from milepost 264 at the Salnave Road exit through much of the morning.
That traffic was forced into stop-and-go travel as it wound through Medical Lake on state Highway 902 to the easternmost Medical Lake access to I-90, which is eight miles southwest of downtown Spokane.