Should I-405 fatal crash victim have left her vehicle?

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 26 at 5:40 PM

A semi-truck hit and killed a 24-year-old woman whose car was stalled on I-405 after hitting a deer early Monday morning.

Alea Price of Seattle had called 9-1-1 and her boyfriend, telling them her Toyota Scion had struck a deer on the highway and was disabled in the left middle lane in traffic. But before help arrived, a semi truck slammed into her car, killing her.

Should she have waited for help to arrive or get out of the car?

At the scene, a Washington State Trooper said he would have left the car.

"Put the hazards on. I'd leave the vehicle. I'm not staying in the vehicle," said Trooper Chris Webb.

But we're usually told to stay in the car. Which is correct?

Nearly a decade ago near the same location was a fiery accident with family stalled in the fast lane of I-405.  They too were hit from behind and killed. At the time, the State Patrol told KING 5 don't leave your vehicle.

"Stay in your car, seatbelted and if you have a cell phone call 911," said Sgt. Steve Burns, Washington State Patrol.

Now we're told there is no set rule. Usually, when traffic is heavy and moving slowly, staying in the protection of your car is best. But early Monday morning, it was dark with lighter, faster moving traffic. Trooper Webb says he's not so sure.

"If that person had exited the vehicle - it's dark out. She would have had to cross multiple lanes of freeway as a pedestrian and could have struck by a vehicle that way," said Trooper Webb.

There are no easy answers in split-second situation, which leaves behind more questions.

Troopers say Price was seatbelted, but they're not sure if her lights were on. They cannot say if the 911 operator told Price to stay in her car or get out.

The truck driver was interviewed and has not been charged at this time.

KING 5's Linda Brill contributed to this report.
 

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