State sues to recover costs of 2013 bridge collapse

Two drivers and three different companies are begin sued for $17 million in conjunction with a 2013 accident that collapsed part of the Skagit River bridge on I-5 about 60 miles north of Seattle in Washington State.

I-5 Bridge over the Skagit River collapsed in May of 2013. (Wikipedia photo)

The Washington State Department of Transportation today filed a lawsuit to recoup the costs associated with the May 23, 2013 accident during which a truck carrying an over-height load struck several overhead braces of the bridge. The collision f damaged the bridge and caused two other  vehicles to fall into the water.

Named in  the suit are:

  • William Scott, the driver of the truck
  • his employer, Mullen Trucking LP of Aldersyde, Alberta, Canada
  • Tammy Detray, the pilot-car driver
  • the pilot-car company G&T Crawlers Service
  • and the owner of the metal shed being transported, Saxon Energy Services, Inc. of Alberta, Canada. (Saxon is owned by Schlumberger.)

The Washington State Patrol cited the truck driver for negligent driving, saying the mishap happened because:

  • The truck driver did not know the accurate height of his oversized load, and received a permit for a load two inches lower than the one he carried.
  • The truck driver failed to research the route to ensure it could accommodate his over-height load. Had he taken the advanced safety steps required of all drivers who haul oversized loads, he would have known the left southbound lane of the bridge provided adequate vertical clearance for the load.
  • The pilot-car driver was on the phone as she crossed the bridge and did not notify the truck driver of the height clearance pole striking the bridge.
  • The truck driver was following the pilot car too closely and would not have been able to stop in time even if the pilot-car driver had notified him of the pole strikes.

As owner of the shed that struck the bridge, Saxon Energy Services, Inc. also is financially responsible for the catastrophic damage caused by this collision, according to state law.

The 59-year-old Skagit bridge carries an average of 71,000 vehicles a day over the river on I-5, Washington’s major north-south roadway between Oregon and Canada.