Heavy rain on Wednesday afternoon helped turn Interstate 90 through the Spokane Valley into a rolling demolition derby, triggering at least five fender benders during a one-hour period.
Three of the accidents occurred in succession near the Pines Road interchange just before 3 p.m. An ambulance carried the driver of one of the cars away with minor head and neck injuries, but most were unhurt.
“A heavy downpour is what started it all,” said Sgt. Richard Wiley, one of several Washington State Patrol troopers running from accident to accident. Wiley said motorists were driving too fast and following too close for the weather conditions.
Rain from a brief cloudburst beat down on traffic as Vic Kychynski drove his service truck westbound on I-90. The driver of the car in front of Kychynski suddenly slammed on the brakes, and he said he moved over to the inside lane.
Kychynski said the rain and ruts on the freeway caused his truck to fishtail, and it slammed into the back of another car west of the Pines Road interchange.
“The dang thing broke away from me,” Kychynski said. “As wet as it was, she just come around on me. I didn’t have much chance.”
Kychynski’s truck ended up on the side of the road. The car skidded sideways, partially blocking both lanes.
About 200 yards behind that accident, a compact car with its air bags inflated was parked on the shoulder behind a truck. The car appeared to have rear ended the truck.
East of that accident, troopers investigated a four-car tangle. Those involved in a minor two-car accident in the eastbound lanes did not wait for troopers, Wiley said.
“When you have a downpour like that the speed limit isn’t 60 mph any more,” Wiley said. “It’s whatever’s safest, and that certainly isn’t 60.”
Traffic slowed to a crawl while firefighters scurried from car to car checking for injuries. Troopers briefly closed I-90 westbound, and then restricted the freeway to one lane for about 45 minutes before reopening it to normal traffic.
Cars again stacked up for miles a few minutes after troopers cleared away most of the remnants of those accidents. This time, a two-car accident east of the Pines Road interchange was to blame.
Wiley said troopers will consider citing motorists for following too close or driving too fast for conditions.
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