What caused dozens of vehicles to collide on Wednesday’s foggy Interstate 5, killing two drivers eight miles apart and blocking down portions of the southbound road for much of the day, is still a mystery to police.
The “pieces are still being put together,” as Oregon State Police Captain Stephanie Bigman put it. A pileup involving 60 automobiles, including 20 semi trucks, was described as “an extraordinarily complex circumstance” by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
The first death occurred at about 8 a.m. at milepost 211, 14 miles north of Eugene, but Oregon State Police have released little specifics and no background on the incident.
Bigman said that several motorists were driving recklessly due to the dense fog. During the detour, traffic was briefly redirected to the northbound lanes.
A small fender-bender-like incident occurred around milepost 218 outside of Halsey due to an unknown object, probably a tire in the road, Bigman said. Traffic had begun to clear behind the morning’s original disaster.
One Freightliner truck swerved to the right and stopped in the passing lane as a result. The Freightliner was involved in a collision with another truck, which caused it to catch fire. Oregon State Police confirmed the death of the second freightliner’s driver, identifying him as 63-year-old Kirpal Singh from Yuba City, California.
The drivers of two automobiles who collided in the aftermath of the semi-truck accident walked away unharmed.
The southbound lanes of the interstate were blocked due to several accidents that occurred 16 miles north of the Beltline Highway interchange. Police said that six of the semis involved were leaking fluids.
ODOT reported that the southbound lanes of I-5 at the Oregon 34 junction south of Albany did not reopen until 2:30 a.m.