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Big accident on 15th in Interbay

January 30th, 2009 · 61 Comments

UPDATE:  Traffic was backed up for almost six hours following the accident on Friday night. 

According to SPD, the suspect was driving his Toyota Highlander north on 15th Ave W at a very high rate of speed, cutting in and out of traffic and passing other vehicles using the center turn lane. He hit one car near Armory Way and did not stop.  The female driver in that collision was not injured.

The suspect continued northbound at excessively high speeds, driving in the center lane and passing other motorists. He drove into the left lane of southbound traffic and collided head on into a Honda CRV occupied by two women, injuring them both. The suspect spun out of control and collided into a Mini Cooper. That driver was not hurt. Both women in the Honda CRV were transported to Harborview, the 65-year-old driver had life-threatening injuries and the front seat passenger had non-life-threatening injuries.

The adult male suspect was also transported to Harborview with non-life-threatening injuries, where officers evaluated him for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. 

UPDATE:  Additional coverage and photographs from KIRO TV.  Firefighters had to cut the injured people out of both vehicles.  We checked the Fire Department 911 Response Log and a total of 14 fire/rescue units were sent to the scene of the accident, including the heavy rescue unit at 3pm today.

UPDATE:  KOMO TV says that two people are critically injured following the crash.  A 40 year old woman and 45 year old man have been rushed to Harborview with life threatening injuries.  Another female passenger, age unknown, was also taken to the hospital to be checked out.

Drivers report that traffic is being rerouted into Magnolia to avoid the back up caused by the accident.

A collision along 15th Ave. near the Interbay Golf Center at 3 p.m. this afternoon created long traffic backups stretching all the way to the Ballard Bridge. Mike emailed us to say it’s a “terrible head-on accident” involving a SUV, and there are reports of three injuries, one critical. 

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  • ksontag

    According to the PI the drivers are trapped in their cars: http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/seattle911/archives/160848.asp

  • Fnarf

    Ugh. People, SUVs are NOT SAFER, they’re more dangerous, they DON’T protect you in a crash, and they’re much more likely to get into them due to poor handling and brakes.

  • Magpie

    I dont know if I agree with you Fnarf, that looks like a bad one and it stands to reason that the people in the smaller car will be more impacted..especially if they are hit by a big SUV.

    I just hope everyone involved here is ok…….

  • Kate

    Wow; I was in Ballard at the time and it took me an hour and a half to get from the Walgreens at 15th and Market back in to Magnolia; creeping along Leary Way and over the Fremont Bridge for the detour. Traffic was all snarled up. I hope that those involved in the accident survive.

  • MagnoliaPeeps

    The issue seems to be the guy was going 60 MPH, struck a car, continued driving and then struck another car. SUV, whatever isn’t the issue – clearly he was doing something he probably shouldn’t have.

    One thing we see continually, is a lot of speeding on 15th. People also speed down the bus lane and continue speeding up the bridge. The bus lane has somehow turned us all in to Speedracer in our attempts to beat everyone else to the bridge.

    Lets all think about our driving habits and keep these two individuals who were taken to Harborview in our thoughts and prayers.

  • DB

    The traffic getting home to my NE Magnolia home sucked as the Ballard Bridge was closed on the North end. The accident was just South of Dravus so was there not another way to divert traffic around so that Magnolia residents could get home at 8:30 pm? I was listening to KOMO radio the whole time and they offered too Little info for us Islanders to get home. This just really wants me to move away again because of these darn Bridges. If the guy survives throw the book at him too. I do hope that all the victims recover. My point here is that Seattle Police need to do a better Job in rediecting traffic and provide better information to citizens so they can be better informed.

  • Raab

    DB-you certainly hit the nail on the head. I too live in NE Mag and was in Ballard trying to get home. I ended up parking and walking across the locks, which was a nice walk and all. I spoke with an officer detouring traffic from the bridge and he said it was all done for our safety. Yeah sure… This has happened before and will happen again. I don’t understand why it was necessary to stop all traffic at the north end of the bridge. I think they could certainly have closed 15th at Dravus and rerouted from there. And the reporting on this was absolutely horrible, “traffic on 15th is blocked at Armory Way” not exactly accurate or very helpful for the thousands of people impacted by this.

    I do hope the victims in this are doing okay and I also hope that it’s a pretty big book that’s dropped on the driver that caused all of this.

  • js

    Raab, I totally agree with you,and pray for the injured that they recover. The closing of the north end of the bridge was ridiculous.

  • Magpie

    What kind of person gets drunk or stoned or whatever at 3 in the afternoon and then gets in a car???? That guy deserves that highest possible penalty for his actions.

    It is weird that they closed the Ballard Bridge. It makes sense to close 15th at Dravus, which they did, but not the bridge. That really made the situation worse. We came home to Magnolia around 8pm via QA and when we croseed Dravus, 15th was still backed up a long way. Seems like shutting down the bridge caused back ups that could have been avoided.

  • dd

    I hope someone can get the police or the city to explain why the bridge had to be closed when the accident was so far South. It didnt’ make any sense. Too two hours to get home from Ballard. Why?

  • David

    Does anyone know how the injured are? and who was the knuckle head that caused the wreck.

  • Valentijn

    They might have closed the bridge to be sure they could get aid vehicles to and from the crash.

  • richelle

    Fnarf,
    I agree that SUV’s can be less safe than other cars, when you’re talking about driving in the snow, etc. and people in SUVs become overly confident. But that is irrelevant here, where the accident was clearly caused by the worst kind of reckless driving. Perhaps he would have done less damage to others in a Porche, but the cause of the accidents was complete disregard for safety of self and others, not the type of car he was driving.

  • Fnarf

    I didn’t say that the accident was caused by an SUV; I said that lots and lots of people buy SUVs because they think they are safer, but they are NOT — they are significantly more dangerous, more likely to get into crashes, and cause more damage to occur when accidents do happen. People who drive SUVs are putting harm into the world.

  • abcd4ft

    People who drive SUVs are putting harm into the world?
    Don’t be stupid. There is no standard, everyone does their own thing for their own reason. Some people who drive SUVs are idiots and others who drive small cars (racers?) are idiots. To generalize sounds like the 60′s-70′s… sheesh, cop a clue.

  • Amber

    It seems a lot of people are confused as to why the bridge was closed, after some others were just speaking of how people like to “Speedracer” it up to the bridge, in either direction to beat the traffic. Had they left the bridge open they would have risked rescue vehicles and damaged vehicles in the road getting hit because other’s had no idea what to expect on the other side of the bridge.

    I have been commuting for many years on i-5 from Tacoma to Seattle and visa versa, and have seen and/or heard of many accidents that were caused by previous accidents. Sometimes 2 and 3 times over, because later coming drivers aren’t aware that there are vehicles stopped ahead and not driving cautious enough to stop in time. In fact, there was one morning it took me 3.5 hours to get from Tacoma to Seattle because there were upward of 5 accidents all caused by the one previous and unsuspecting drivers.

    Finally, my point is: I am very glad, though it took me 45 minutes to get from Fremont to Eastlake and I was very frustrated, that they did close the bridge to prevent more accidents and injuries.

  • SPG

    It seems like the road needed to be closed for a while since it was possible that the accident would result in fatalities and it would be a crime scene. Why the Ballard bridge needed to be closed is a mystery. Did SPD not have enough manpower to redirect traffic off 15th at Emerson/Nickerson?

  • Joel

    Now please don’t dog on Ballard and say how great Magnolia drivers are but the driver of the green Toyota Highlander is a Ballard/Crown hill resident. I know for he lives a few houses away from me and I recognize the chrome wheels (unnatural for a Toyota).

  • Raab

    I was not saying they should not have closed the road. That makes complete sense to me. I understand that people driving by would be in the way and also possibly even lead to more accidents. What I cannot figure out is why they could not close the road down at the south end of the bridge and/or at Dravus. Now it was been pointed out that for EMS to get on scene makes complete sense and there was a large contingent of EMS on scene, but the entire bridge? Wouldn’t EMS personnel coming from say Ballard still have to navigate through the back up created by closing the bridge at the north end as well? I don’t think it would have taken any more manpower then was already assigned to the situation either.

    I don’t know where 15th was closed on the south end of things. I heard it was at Mercer. Was that the case?

    For me I guess it doesn’t really matter, I trust that SPD and SDOT will review their response to the situation and if warranted make changes. I just continue to hope that the people hurt in this are doing better and that the individual responsible is held accountable for what happened.

  • dd

    Am curious to know what happened to the driver that caused the accident? Haven’t heard or read anything about it. Was he drunk? Kind of strange that there has been no word about him. Did he go to jail?

  • 4thought

    Am fairly certain that if drugs or alcohol were in the blood tests of the driver then it would have been all over the news by now. The fact that it hasnt leads me to believe it was something different. Only sensationalism makes the news. It is certain that police knew within hours the results of any mandatory blood testing after his arrival at hospital.

  • drake22

    4thought….good point. The driver of the Highlander is a good friend of mine and thanks for sticking up for him. Something else happened here aside from drugs or alcohol.

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