A 46-year-old woman suffered only minor injuries when her car was crushed by a semitruck Tuesday morning on Interstate 5 in Mount Vernon.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Washington State Patrol trooper Rocky Oliphant. “It’s miraculous.”
The woman was the only person in the Nissan Altima when the vehicle was sandwiched between two semitrucks on the Skagit River Bridge.
The semitruck in front of the Nissan slowed down because of traffic, and the driver of the passenger car also slowed, Oliphant said. But the semitruck behind the Nissan was unable to stop in time and struck the passenger car. The impact pushed the Nissan forward into the other semitruck, causing the car to fold, Oliphant said.
The semitruck behind the car came to rest on top of it, he said.
On Wednesday, after he’d had a day to think about it, Oliphant said he still thinks the word “miraculous” fits — the woman was able to crawl on her own from the wreckage.
But it also may have been “a little bit of a perfect storm,” he said.
The way the back end of the woman’s car folded up, almost in a u-turn facing toward the front, did two things: It kept some of the truck’s weight off the passenger compartment and created something like a ramp for the truck to drive up and over, he explained.
“Lucky is not the right word because that was not a lucky collision,” he said, “but she may be the luckiest unlucky person.”
All northbound and southbound I-5 lanes were closed around 10:50 a.m. following the collision, said state Department of Transportation spokesperson Alexa Fortuna.
Movement on the bridge was causing the semitruck to shake, which worried officials because the Nissan driver was trapped inside her car under the semitruck, Oliphant said. The driver was able to get out on her own once a tow truck lifted the front of the semitruck.
The driver reported feeling only minor rib and head pain, Oliphant said. She was taken to a hospital for further examination.
WSDOT reopened the I-5 southbound lanes at 11:30 a.m. and the northbound lanes at 12:26 p.m., Fortuna said.