Monday, November 29, 2021
Nov. 29, 2021

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Chickens, fuel spill onto I-5 following 6-vehicle crash

Poultry handlers sent to North Fork Lewis River Bridge to round up chickens

By , Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith

Fifty to 60 chickens got loose on Interstate 5 on Monday afternoon following a six-vehicle collision on the North Fork Lewis River Bridge, just south of Woodland. Two people sustained minor injuries.

The crash, which was reported in the northbound lanes around 3:20 p.m., caused a 13-mile backup and slowed traffic for several hours. It involved a tractor-trailer, an armored truck, two sport utility vehicles, a pickup and a big rig without a trailer.

The collision occurred when the pickup truck, a black Ford F-150 driven by Mark W. Backstrom, 54, of Longview, changed lanes to avoid a vehicle stopped illegally in the left lane, according to a Washington State Patrol press memo. The pickup lost control, struck the inside rail of the bridge and came to a stop.

That’s when the pickup was struck by a green 1995 Freightliner tractor that wasn’t pulling a trailer.

The grey armored truck, a silver 2011 Ford escape and a black GMC Sierra slowed down to avoid the crash when a tractor-trailer hauling chickens, driven by 43-year-old Robert L. York of Toledo, hit all three of the vehicles that had slowed down, according to State Patrol.

The White 2001 Freightliner was hauling two trailers, which contained hundreds of chickens stored in pallet crates, said Tim Dawdy of Clark County Fire & Rescue. “Some of those broke open, so there’s chickens on the freeway,” he said Monday afternoon.

Poultry handlers were deployed to the crash site to round up the chickens and transfer them to another tractor-trailer that had been sent to the bridge, Dawdy said.

Diesel spilled from two of the vehicles, so firefighters blocked the bridge drains to prevent fuel from flowing into the river. The vehicles were so intertwined that firefighters had trouble accessing the leaks, Dawdy said. The Washington State Department of Ecology was notified about the spill, and the state Department of Transportation was sent to help with traffic control.

York and the driver of the Escape, 62-year-old Portland resident Richard E. Miller, were injured, but they did not need to be transported to the hospital, according to State Patrol.

Backstrom, the pickup’s driver, was cited for making an unsafe lane change, and York, who was hauling the chickens, was cited for following too close and speeding, according to State Patrol.

The vehicle that had stopped illegally in the left lane helped cause the crash, according to State Patrol. It’s unclear whether the driver of that vehicle was cited.

Two lanes on the three-lane span were blocked while emergency responders cleaned up the crash and the vehicles were towed. The collision was cleared around 7 p.m., but traffic was backed up to the Clark County Fairgrounds area in Ridgefield for at least another 45 minutes.

David Holmes said it took him three hours to drive from downtown Vancouver to his home in Kalama.

Other, less serious collisions on I-5 in north Clark County contributed to the traffic mess.

“We’ve been running from one collision to another,” said Washington State Patrol Trooper Stephen Robley.

Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith