A bridge along Interstate 5 about 60 miles north of Seattle collapsed Thursday night, causing vehicles to plunge into the chilly Skagit River. There are no reported fatalities and three people rescued from the water are being treated at local hospitals.
Two cars went into the river. Police believe the collapse was caused by a commercial truck that passed over the bridge.
Dan Sligh and his wife plunged into the river after seeing "a big puff of dust," he told KING-TV from a local hospital. "I hit the brakes and we went off," he said. "[We] saw the water approaching. ... You hold on as tight as you can."
At an overnight press conference, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said two trucks traveled over the bridge before the collapse. One of the trucks is believed to have bumped the bridge.
"Early indications tell us that we had a semi truck southbound on I-5 in the right lane, which we call Lane 1," Batiste said. "Additionally we had a semi that was also southbound in Lane 2, the left lane. For reasons unknown at this point in time, the semi truck struck the overhead of the bridge, causing the collapse."
KIRO-TV reports the truck that hit the bridge was marked with an oversize load sticker. The semi appears to have suffered only slight damage, the station reports, and police are investigating its weight.
Sligh told KIRO-TV that the two semis appeared to leave each other little wiggle room in the two southbound lanes of the four-lane bridge.
"Another semi-truck came up on the left side," Sligh said. "It almost looked like he pinned that truck over to where he couldn't swerve. ... He hit the bridge about 3 or 4 feet wider than the actual bridge was."
A 20-year-old man driving an SUV was also rescued from the water.
Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt told reporters that rescue operations ended after his deputies determined everyone in the water had been rescued.
"We were very fortunate that when this call initially came in some of the deputy boat operators were on duty and were within minutes of being able to launch a boat and be out there," Reichardt said. "We had heard rumors that there might be more people in the water; we were able to dispel those rumors. We had divers out there that did not need to go in the water."
Police say the driver of the truck that hit the bridge stayed at the scene and is cooperating with authorities. He is reportedly a professional truck driver from Alberta, Canada.
More than 67,000 drivers use the bridge every day, the Washington State Department of Transportation said Friday, and it is encouraging people to avoid the area while the National Transportation Safety Board inspects the wreckage.
The Seattle Times reports that it will take "weeks at the very least" to repair the bridge, citing a state transportation department spokesman. The bridge, built in 1955, was inspected twice and received minor repairs in the last year, the state transportation secretary said.