Multiple vehicles were involved in crashes on Interstate 5 in Tacoma, authorities said.
A man died early Friday after a series of car wrecks on southbound Interstate 5 in Tacoma just south of Highway 512.
The wrecks involved six cars. All lanes of I-5 were closed until about 6 a.m. as Washington State Patrol troopers untangled the complex scene.
Two drivers were arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, said Patrol spokesman Trooper Todd Bartolac.
The man who was killed was a passenger and died in the initial collision of three cars, Bartolac said. Then, a fourth car plowed into those vehicles while they were on the roadway. The driver who allegedly caused that wreck was taken to the hospital, received stitches and was booked into Pierce County jail on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Before the wreck, troopers received a call about the driver who caused the fatal wreck, Bartolac said.
“The causing driver was actually being called in as an erratic vehicle as it was driving down the road prior to the collision,” he said.
A few minutes after the initial pileup and about 100 feet away, the driver of a fifth vehicle struck a traffic barrier and a sixth car. The driver of the sixth vehicle, the victim, fled the scene. Bartolac said it’s not clear why the victim fled.
The driver who allegedly caused that wreck was arrested and also booked for DUI, Bartolac said.
Bartolac said there is road construction in the area.
“Going into a construction zone, they were pushing cars over to the left. It looks like they were overwhelmed,” Bartolac said of the suspected drunken drivers. “When people are impaired or intoxicated, they have a difficult time processing information.”
He encouraged motorists to report erratic driving as soon as possible and wanted to remind people that it’s legal to call 911 and talk to law enforcement when driving.
Bartolac said when troopers get notified of a possible DUI, “that’s like blood in the water to sharks … We know if we can find it and get it off the roadway, we can save a life.”