By Natalie Johnson / firstname.lastname@example.org
A series of crashes Sunday on Interstate 5 in South Thurston County left one driver dead and another arrested as freeway traffic was snarled for much of the day.
Troopers from the Washington State Patrol first responded at 3:50 a.m. at milepost 93 of northbound I-5, about 7 miles south of Tumwater in Thurston County.
According to a report from the State Patrol, two semi trucks were driving northbound on the freeway at milepost 93 when the first truck, identified as a red 2013 Volvo driven by Sandeep Singh, 34, of Kent, struck the second semi, a blue 2015 Freightliner driven by Erin E. Kelly, 59, of Medford, Oregon. The collision occurred when the vehicles approached traffic that was slowed due a separate collision in which a travel trailer went over an embankment at milepost 95, Trooper Brooke Bova told The Chronicle.
The first semi then struck a third vehicle, identified as a white 2011 Hyundai Accent, according to the State Patrol. The driver of that vehicle, a 61-year-old Rochester man, later died, according to the State Patrol.
His name has not yet been released pending notification of next of kin.
The first semi then went on to hit three more vehicles as it moved sideways across the freeway’s three lanes. One of the vehicles it struck hit the seventh and final vehicle damaged in the incident.
Four of the seven involved vehicles were not identified in a report from the State Patrol.
The crash blocked the road for 11 hours, according to the report. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Meanwhile, traffic backed up along northbound I-5. At 9 a.m. Sunday, troopers responded to another crash a few miles south of the 3:50 a.m. incident, at milepost 87 of northbound I-5 at Grand Mound.
According to a report from the State Patrol, a blue 2005 Ford F-150 truck driven by Terry B. Ensel, 62, of Tenino, was traveling northbound behind a 2009 Dodge Grand Caravan driven by Carlene D. Lenard, 66, of Bainbridge Island.
The minivan stopped for the backup caused by the earlier collision, and was struck by the truck, causing the van to rotate and come to rest facing the wrong direction.
Both Ensel and Lenard were injured and transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.
Ensel was later arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and vehicular assault and was booked into the Thurston County Jail.
The road was blocked for about an hour and a half, according to the State Patrol.