This article was reported and written by Jeanne Gustafson.
OUTSIDE SEATTLE -- Update, 9:25 p.m., May 23: The Skagit County Sheriff's Office is urging people not to go to the scene of a bridge collapse on Interstate 5 and to keep phone lines open for emergency crews as much as possible:
"Please do not drive to the area unless you are an emergency responder, roadways need to be kept as clear as possible for emergency vehicles. Please try to stay off land and cell phones as the volume of calls has overloaded the system and first responders are not able to make needed calls due to line overload."
Meanwhile, the Washington State Department of Transportation said a state bridge engineer is investigating the possibility that an oversized load struck the bridge, but emphasized that the cause of the collapse has not yet been determined.
Emergency rescue crews were responding Thursday night, May 23, to the scene of a bridge collapse into the Skagit River which dropped 2 cars with three passengers into the frigid water.
Marcus Deyerin, an emergency response specialist, said three people were pulled from the water and still being treated by emergency workers as of 8:45 p.m., and two vehicles had fallen from the bridge into the water. Rescuers were still searching the water, but did not believe anyone else had fallen in.
The four-lane Interstate 5 bridge over the river at Mount Vernon collapsed at about 7 p.m., according to a KOMO News report.
The Washington State Department of Transportation posted on Twitter that southbound I-5 traffic was being routed off at state Route 20, and northbound traffic at East College Way, and traffic was backing up considerably on I-5. For those who can, WSDOT recommends state Route 9 as an alternate route.
Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, issued the following statement following the I-5 bridge collapse :
“I am monitoring the bridge collapse in Skagit County. My office stands ready to assist emergency responders and local and state officials. I encourage people to follow police instructions and stay away from the site of the collapse to let first responders address the situation safely.”