PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A sudden hailstorm led to a deadly crash on I-5 north of Kelso, Wash., leaving several cars wrecked and northbound drivers in a gridlock for hours.
The storm, which came through just after 2 p.m., left a mess of I-5 with multiple crashes between semi-trucks and cars.
Kelso resident Lonnie Mustion noticed the freeway traffic start to backup into town when he got out of work. “2:30 and it was blocked going west and north and south on I-5,” said Mustion.
Both sides of I-5 saw multiple crashes after the hailstorm near mile post 42. Washington State Patrol say the bulk of the crashes were in the northbound lanes, with at least 3-4 separate crashes with multiple vehicles involved in each one.
Washington State police said the victim in the crash was a 75-year-old woman who lost control of her motorcycle and crashed into the median. Officials have not identified the woman, but did say she was from Reno, Nevada.
A man in a truck was injured, as well, and taken to an area hospital — though his condition is unknown.
The string of wrecked cars left northbound traffic backed up for miles as cars took to the shoulder and the frontage road of N Pacific Avenue to move through the area. Tow trucks arrived just before 6 p.m. to start clearing the lanes of wreckage.
“Very surprised,” said Mustion, when he saw the continued traffic back-up hours later in Kelso. “We live close to here and it was very surprising still.”
Mustion says while he didn’t notice the hailstorm while inside, it’s not unusual for the area to see quick bursts of weather activity like the hail. “In Kelso, yeah, sun, rain, snow, anything can happen in one day,” said Mustion.
Traffic is now back open in both directions of I-5.