First responders responded to a multi-vehicle crash on southbound I-5 north of the Portal Way off-ramp shortly after 1pm today, February 19th.
Crash scene debris and emergency response vehicles blocked both southbound lanes and 1 northbound lane for about 1 hour.
An unrelated non-injury 2-vehicle crash was reported in the northbound lanes in the same area.
Whatcom County Fire District 7 Fire Chief Larry Hoffman said they treated patients in 6 or 7 vehicles at the scene and 4 patients were transported to PeaceHealth St Joseph’s Medical Center, 3 under basic life support protocol (BLS) and 1 under advanced (ALS).
Washington State Patrol Trooper Heather Axtman said the incident was still under investigation but witnesses reported a commercial armored courier vehicle had been spewing thick dark smoke just prior to the crashes and drivers involved reported visibility problems as a result. A semi truck drove left into the median and the other smaller vehicles headed toward the right side of the road. “It was miraculous no one was seriously injured,” Axtman said during a telephone interview.
Ferndale Police located the armored courier vehicle nearby and WSP investigators are looking into the cause of the smoke according to Axtman.
As of 2pm, one lane of southbound I-5 had been reopened. By 4pm, both lanes were reopened. Traffic was reported to be backed up for 3 miles at one point.