1 dead, 3 injured after crash closes I-5 near Battle Ground exit

BATTLE GROUND, Wash. - One man is dead and three others were badly injured after a weather-related crash that closed Interstate 5 in both directions near the Battle Ground exit Thursday, Washington State Patrol said.

Trooper Steve Schatzel said a man was killed and another was in critical condition. That man was taken to the hospital. Two others were in serious conditions. Schatzel did not know whether those people were male or female, but he said they were also taken to the hospital.

According to Washington State Patrol, 39-year-old Matthew S. Scott of Tualatin, Ore. was the man who died.

The wreck happened at about 10:30 a.m. and involved between 25 to 30 vehicles near the Gee Creek Rest Area. By the afternoon, all lanes were reopened but the going was slow and the backup stretched for several miles.

KATU learned, around the same time, several crashes were reported in both directions along I-5, stretching from north of the Fairgrounds to the Ridgefield area.

Lila Bender, whose car spun out just behind the worst of the crash told KATU, "Visibility was just terrible. I couldn't see anything and before I knew it, there were just tail lights and cars everywhere. So I slammed on my breaks and managed not to hit any cars in front of me and swerved into the median."

Bender's car was smashed in on the front driver's side but not necessarily from the median; she said another driver in an SUV plowed into the front driver's side and then took off. Bender was not injured but she realized others were when she stepped outside of her car.

"There were people really hurt," she said. "I could hear people screaming. They had to wait for firefighters to pry people out of cars in front of me. It was really sad."

WSP Trooper Will Finn said the American Red Cross was called because drivers and passengers would likely be stuck in the cold. A Red Cross spokeswoman said crews delivered water, snacks and blankets to tide people over during

Some lanes of I-5 re-opened around 12:30 p.m. but traffic continued to back up for miles. The Interstate didn't begin to clear until around 6 p.m.