Breaking down the Monday highway closureMarch 6th, 2013 by Tad Sooter
A head-on collision just south of the Agate Pass Bridge closed Highway 305 for nearly four hours Monday afternoon. Two drivers were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center and remained in serious condition Tuesday afternoon.
Response to the collision closed the highway in both directions from about 2-5:30 p.m. Monday. Backups stretched for miles.
We’ve heard from a few frazzled commuters and followers on social media wondering why the highway remained closed for so long after the drivers were evacuated. It’s a fair question, and I thought it would be interesting to break down what goes into a response of this nature, according to first responders:
- The collision was reported at 2:09 p.m. Monday by Bainbridge Fire Assistant Chief Luke Carpenter, who happened to driving from the island to a meeting in Bremerton at the time. Carpenter was only a few cars behind the sedan involved in the collision when the wreck occurred.
- About 20 firefighters responded to the scene. The drivers were trapped in their vehicles and had to be cut free. Both drivers were transported away from the scene by 2:35 p.m. The last fire department vehicle cleared at 3:06 p.m. (This aerial image from KOMO nicely illustrates the scope of the scene).
- With the fire crews and aid cleared, Bainbridge Police began a traffic investigation. Police Lt. Chris Jensen said a comprehensive investigation was warranted because injuries to the drivers were severe and it was unknown whether criminal activity was involved. Investigators photographed the scene, recorded measurements and took notes. They made spray paint markings on the roadway for later reference. This process took about two hours, Jensen said.
- Once investigators completed their work, the damaged vehicles were removed by tow trucks. Finally, a Department of Transportation crew cleared hazardous debris from the roadway.
- The highway reopened at about 5:30 p.m., though traffic remained disrupted through the evening commute.
Jensen said he was pleased by the efficiency of the police response and coordination between agencies. He expects the department to release details from the investigation late this week. We’ll post updates as we get them.
(Tad Sooter photo)