Skagit River bridge collapses

From our sister newspaper, The Herald:

MOUNT VERNON — The four-lane Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed about 7 p.m. Thursday, dumping vehicles and people into the water, the Washington State Patrol said.

There was no immediate estimate of how many people were in the water or whether there were any injuries or deaths, the Patrol said. It is too early to know the cause of the collapse, as rescue crews focus on rescue and recovery of anyone who may be in the river.

Xavier Grospe, 62, who lives near the river, said he could see three cars with what appeared to be one person per vehicle. The vehicles were sitting still in the water, partially submerged and partly above the waterline, and the apparent drivers were sitting either on top of the vehicles or on the edge of open windows.

"It doesn't look like anybody's in danger right now," Grospe said.

A hovercraft crew surveying the scene is reporting that there is a full-size pickup truck with a trailer and a smaller passenger car in the river. The car's passenger door is open and the airbags have been deployed.

Crowds of people lined the river to watch the scene unfold.

Gov. Jay Inslee is heading to the scene.

Washington state was given a C in the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2013 infrastructure report card and a C- when it came to the state's bridges. The group said more than a quarter of Washington's 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient of functionally obsolete.

Snohomish County emergency management crews were being summoned to the scene as of 8 p.m., director John Pennington said.

Pennington was en route himself and could not give additional details.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office is sending a helicopter and its technical water rescue team, which includes divers and three boats. Arlington Rural and Silvana fire departments also are sending boats to the scene, Arlington city spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said.



The state department of transportation's list of structurally deficient bridges

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