A fatal vehicle crash on Interstate 5 closed all three southbound lanes of the freeway for several hours Sunday at Hayden Island, creating a traffic challenge for motorists trying to make their way to or from Portland.
The crash occurred at about 4:30 p.m. in the freeway’s southbound lanes just south of the I-5 Bridge, according to the Portland Police Bureau. Four vehicles, including a tractor-trailer, were involved in the crash, and one car became fully engulfed in flames, police said. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and discovered that the driver inside the car had died, police said.
The southbound lanes were closed to traffic as police investigated what caused the crash, and police warned drivers that it could be up to six hours until the lanes reopened. Emergency responders also closed all but one northbound lane until 7:30 p.m. At about 10:15 p.m., all southbound lanes had reopened.
Vehicles were rerouted to Interstate 205 during the closure. Traffic in Vancouver backed up to the Main Street exit, according to witness accounts on social media. Officials advised northbound drivers in Oregon to take Highway 84 to I-205.
Jennifer Grubbs was caught in the traffic following the crash, she said in a Facebook post. She said she sat “shocked” in her vehicle as she waited near the Jantzen Beach Center. She sent prayers to the victim’s family.
“While people were heading home after already-busy weekend travel and being out along the river, we all patiently waited and worked (through) access areas to still more mess along downtown Vancouver, Highway 14 … as well as a long wait to I-205,” she wrote.
Although the delay was long, she added that she was thankful “for excellent, quick and efficient local emergency personnel and the highway cleanup crews.”