An evening commute turns into a nightmare Thursday for drivers along a major West Coast highway that crosses a bridge in Washington state. I-5 runs through Washington, Oregon and California.
It runs across the Skagit River in Washington. The bridge there collapsed, plunging at least three people into the river.
Investigators say the impact of a tractor-trailer carrying an oversize load caused the collapse.
"For reasons unknown at this point in time the semi struck hit the overhead of the bridge causing the collapse," the Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said.
Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said the bridge, which was repaired twice last year, "needs a lot of work just like a good number of bridges around the state."
Dan Sligh and his wife were two of three people who were injured when they fell into the Skagit River. They were in their pickup truck on Interstate 5 enroute to a camping trip when the bridge before them disappeared in a "big puff of dust," Sligh said.
Sligh told reporters from the hospital that he "hit the brakes and we went off," adding that they "saw the water approaching" and held on as tight as they could.
"We don't think anyone else went into the water," said Marcus Deyerin, a spokesman for the Northwest Washington Incident Management Team. "At this point we're optimistic."
Interstate 5 is the busiest and longest freeway in the West Coast. The collapse will likely cause major disruptions.
Officials say there were no fatalities.