Emergency responders had a hectic Monday as car crashes beginning early in the morning continued well into the afternoon, including a chain-reaction crash on state Highway 500 that sent two drivers to the hospital.
Light rain pattered on the roads and fog hung low in the air around the Columbia River early Monday as commuters began their workweek. It didn’t take long for dispatchers to alert fire departments and law enforcement agencies about several crashes.
A crash in the southbound lanes of the Glenn Jackson Bridge on Interstate 205 caused traffic to slow on the freeway all the way to its junction with Interstate 5 north of Vancouver.
The crash happened at Milepost 26.6 near the Oregon state line, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Emergency vehicles blocked the left lane starting around 7:25 a.m. Drivers were asked to use caution and move over for flashing lights.
Around the same time, stop-and-go traffic was backing up beyond Kiggins Bowl due to a crash on Interstate 5, according to traffic maps. No agencies sent out alerts about the crash, however.
Then, there was a crash around 7:30 a.m. on Northwest Lakeshore Avenue at Vancouver Junction. Two vehicles veered off the roadway and down an embankment, according to emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian.
Responders requested tow trucks to the scene of the crash at Northwest 78th Street and Lakeshore Avenue. The initial arriving crew reported the two cars, as well as a third still on the road, but said everyone was outside of their vehicles and appeared to be OK, according to the scanner.
Clark County sheriff’s deputies were asked to help with traffic control, as a line of vehicles was quickly building up at the intersection.
Things went smoothly for drivers until about 12:45 p.m., when responders were dispatched to the scene of a three-vehicle wreck on westbound state Highway 500 approaching the intersection at Northeast Stapleton Road.
A Washington State Patrol bulletin said Anthony A. Smith, 39, of Vancouver crashed a 1997 Honda Accord sedan into a 1999 Dodge Caravan driven by Lorenzo O. Jackson, 62 of Vancouver, propelling the minivan into a 2015 GMC Yukon driven by Laura C. McGreevey, 38, of Vancouver.
Smith and Jackson were both injured in the crash and transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and were reported in satisfactory condition Monday evening. Smith was cited for following too close, having no insurance, driving while suspended and not having an ignition interlock. Jackson was cited for driving while suspended and having no insurance, according to the WSP.
WSP Trooper Will Finn said the lanes were closed for about an hour.
All told, Finn said, troopers responded to 15 crashes in Clark County between 4 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. There was no consistent location for where the crashes happened, he said, although five occurred on Highway 500, between Northeast Andresen Road and the highway’s east end on Padden Parkway.
“That was our biggest problem spot,” Finn said.
Rain was a contributing factor in many of the crashes, Finn said. Several rainy days have already soaked the area as fall begins, but Monday saw consistent rainfall that caused dirt and oil to seep from the roads, causing slicker-than-usual conditions, he said.
Finn reminded drivers to slow down and increase the space between themselves and other vehicles.
He also said drivers should be prepared for the possibility of getting stuck in traffic. That means making sure your vehicle is in working order and bringing snacks and warm clothes along for the ride.
“Especially with winter coming, it’s important to prepare to be out on the roads for longer than usual.”
The National Weather Service forecasted a 40 percent chance of rain on Tuesday, with patchy fog before noon. Mostly sunny skies are predicted through Friday.