Yikes! Semi Leans Off Deception Pass Bridge

Yikes! Semi Leans Off Deception Pass Bridge
ISLAND COUNTY - A semi truck driver might owe his life to whoever built the guardrails on the Deception Pass Bridge some 70 years ago.

The semi collided with a pickup truck while crossing the bridge early Friday morning amid strong cross winds. In the accident, the semi overturned about halfway over the guardrail and was leaning over the edge of the bridge.

"I just came around the corner and got about halfway down the bridge," semi driver Gene Schaible told KOMO 4 News. "I felt (the wind) hit me... I throttled into it and (the wind) just took me across the bridge. I saw oncoming traffic coming, I knew I was going to hit (the pickup) so I just let off the throttle and hit the brakes and that's when the whole thing went over and he (the pickup) went under me."

Schaible was able to get out of his cab OK, which was also leaning over the edge of the bridge. Winds blowing across the bridge were estimated at 50-55 mph.

When asked what was going through his mind as the truck was going over, Schaible said, "I thought I was done. When everything stopped moving, I figured I was going to fall on in (to the water below). I looked down, saw the water and thought, 'Time to go -- get out.' The truck was still rocking. I really thought it was going to go in. I grabbed my wallet and climbed out the truck and checked on the other guy."

He said he climbed out the passenger-side door, which took a few attempts as the wind kept blowing the door closed.

Those strong winds made recovery efforts of the truck difficult. Troopers feared the semi could still blow over to the water, 185-feet below.

Thus the State Patrol has ordered everyone off the bridge until the wind died down. The bridge was closed until about 1:30 p.m., when crews were finally able to clear the truck.

The semi truck driver was unhurt, but the driver of the pickup was taken to a hospital to be checked for injuries.

Schaible said he was hauling furniture to Oak Harbor and that the semi was about 1/3 full of new furniture.