18 dead in crashes on Washington roads since last weekend

By: - July 20, 2023 4:33 pm

(Getty Images)

It’s been a deadly stretch of days on the state’s roads, with at least 18 people killed in vehicle crashes since last weekend, according to the Washington State Patrol.

The law enforcement agency said Thursday that, last weekend alone, 15 people died in traffic collisions. Those incidents included a Tacoma wreck that claimed six lives and a crash outside Othello that killed three. In a half-dozen other separate incidents around the state, six people died. They included four motorcyclists and two people in cars. And since Monday, crashes left three motorcyclists dead.

Traffic fatalities have been up in Washington and around the country in recent years.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated 42,795 lives were lost in motor vehicle crashes in 2022. In 2013, the figure was 32,893.

Washington last year saw 750 traffic-related deaths, the most since the early 1990s, according to data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

This chart shows traffic-related deaths and serious injuries in Washington between 2013 and 2022. The Washington State Department of Transportation presented the information on July 20, 2023. (Washington State Department of Transportation)

Shelly Baldwin, the commission’s director, said Thursday that preliminary data also show crashes in the state had killed 348 people in 2023 through the end of June. That figure is in line with the statistic for the same timespan in 2022, meaning the state is on pace to match 2022 road fatalities.

“It’s a sad thing to be on track for that at this point in the year,” Baldwin said.

“It’s been a rough summer and July’s been full of some really horrible crashes and bad news,” she added, before taking a moment of silence to honor the crash victims during the commission’s meeting.

Meanwhile, Washington State Patrol says it investigated 314 traffic deaths last year and that 37% involved people impaired by drugs or alcohol, 27% involved excessive speed and, in 31% of the crashes, people weren’t wearing seatbelts.

The six people who died in the Tacoma crash were in a 2012 Kia Forte that collided with a 2021 BMW X7 at the intersection of State Route 509 and Alexander Avenue. The crash happened on Sunday around 11 a.m. It left a seventh person in the Kia hospitalized in critical condition. The driver and passenger in the BMW were in stable condition on Sunday, authorities said.

As of Thursday, police were still investigating the crash and looking for witnesses. But they’d indicated one driver ran a red light and that speed was a factor.

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Bill Lucia
Bill Lucia

Bill Lucia is the Standard’s editor-in-chief. He’s covered state and local policy and politics for a decade, nationwide for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and in Seattle for Crosscut.