A high-speed accident involving multiple vehicles on Tennant Way claimed one life and sent at least eight people to the hospital and completely shut down the highway in both directions for more than two hours Friday evening.
Authorities suspect a woman in her mid 30s was intoxicated and was driving eastbound in the westbound lane when she collided head-on with a vehicle caring two adults and two teenagers. The adult male died at the scene.
The suspect driver was taken to St. John Medical Center in serious condition. Three people other car were taken to St. John, one in critical condition, two in serious condition, said Erik Koreis, battalion chief for the Longview Fire Department.
Four other vehicles were involved in the wreck, and some may have been struck while trying to dodge the wrong-way vehicle, said Capt. Robert Huhta of the Longview Police Department.
Authorities did not release names of the people involved, and The Daily News is withholding some details because it was not clear next of kin had been notified by late Thursday evening.
The eastbound lanes, which had been closed to accommodate emergency vehicles, reopened shortly after 9 p.m., but the westbound lanes remained shut down at the Third Avenue interchange and were expected to stay closed most of the night while investigators examined the scene, Huhta and Koreis said.
The wrecks occurred at about 6:45 p.m. in the westbound lane between the railroad crossing at the asphalt plant and Third Avenue off-ramp.
St. John Medical Center spokesman Randy Querin said seven people were brought to the hospital by ambulance. In addition, an eighth patient came by private vehicle.
Two of the eight patients were treated and released. All the cases were “modified” trauma — one step below the life-threatening level of “full trauma,” Querin said. As of 10:30 p.m., no one had died at the hospital as a result of injuries suffered in the wreck, Querin said.
Authorities shut down the eastbound lanes of Tennant Way to ensure emergency vehicles could reach the accident scene, which was spread out across roughly 1/4 mile.
One of the vehicles was on fire when firefighters arrived. Another was turned over, another was in a ditch and another was on its side on the railroad tracks. Fires crews immediately began triage on injured people and used a Jaws of Life tool to cut accident victims from at least three vehicles.
The accident brought out a massive response of six ambulances, four fire trucks, two fire departments and multiple police agencies.