I-5 re-opens after semi crash blocks traffic for hours


by KING 5 News


Posted on July 28, 2011 at 6:17 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 28 at 1:26 PM

THURSTON COUNTY, Wash. --  Southbound I-5 near Tumwater has re-opened after a semi-truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, crashing his vehicle and closing the interstate for nearly six hours.

The crash happened around 5:30 a.m. Thursday near milepost 100 in Thurston County.

Washington State Patrol troopers say a semi-truck was heading northbound on I-5 when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The semi struck an empty WSDOT construction vehicle and crashed through the jersey barrier into the southbound lanes.

"I woke up just as I hit the back of the DOT truck," said Gus Hulstein, 22, truck driver. "Then I lost control of the steering wheel and I braced myself...It was like riding a roller coaster I guess."

No other cars were involved and there were no injuries, including the truck driver.

"I'm very fortunate that I didn't hurt anybody else or myself. That's the main thing," said Hulstein. "It's all metal and it will be all replaced. It still sucks though."

The semi-truck fell onto its side, spilling about 50 gallons of diesel fuel onto the road and blocking all southbound lanes. Department of Ecology crews contained the fuel spill and WSDOT crews spent the morning clearing away large chunks of concrete debris on the road with special tractors.

Southbound morning rush hour traffic was diverted onto side roads and northbound lanes were backed up as drivers were distracted by the mess. WSP troopers said the driver could face negligent driving charges and may have to foot the bill for the cleanup.

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