Fatal Car Crash on I-5 Near Longview, Washington

Fatal car crash in Kelso, Washington

Today at approximately 2:45 there was a fatal car crash on I-5 in Kelso, Washington, near Longview, Washington, USA. Longview borders between Washington and Oregon along the Columbia River in the United States.

I personally was stuck in the traffic jam that followed. It took exactly 1 hour to drive from the I-5 southbound onramp near the Three Rivers Mall to the next I-5 exit at Highway 432. The drive was from 3pm – 4pm on March 29, 2008. Traffic was totally gridlocked and still for the first 20 minutes and people were standing along I-5 talking and standing on their vehicles in hope to get a view of the scene ahead.

The main accident, noted as a red circle on the map below, was I-5 southbound just before the the Longview junction 432 interchange. Weather has been bad- with a random assortment of sleet, snow and rain. The main accident involved 3 cars. The main impact was on the drivers side of a vehicle, which completely demolished the door- pressing it into the middle of the vehicle. Without knowledge of the condition of the people, I feel safe in saying it was fatal for at least one person, just looking at the severity of the T-bone impact to that driver’s side door.

Fatal car crash in Kelso, Washington

Another accident was probably caused because of the first accident- note the yellow circle on the map. Accidents can breed more accidents, with the sudden starting and stopping. It looked like a bad rear end job. I believe it was a minivan that was hammered on the rear with a few feet of the rear compressed. This second accident appeared to involve 3 cars as well.

In total, it appeared at least six cars were damaged as a result of the accident, with at least one fatality.

I feel very sorry for the families involved.

13 thoughts on “Fatal Car Crash on I-5 Near Longview, Washington

  1. Emi

    My group heading home from Spring Break was about 10 seconds away from witnessing this accident. We were stuck for 20 minutes, and were one of the first to get past it. That was scary stuff.

  2. LOM

    My family spent the evening at the hospital with the O’Neil family. Jerry and my father met over 30 years ago as firefighters at McChord Air Force Base. His youngest daughter and I are the same age and we went to school together and she is being incredibly strong and brave through this very trying time. “Uncle” Jerry was the warmest and kindest man and I always described him as a big teddy bear with an infectious smile. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.

    Karen is recovering well and is surrounded by her wonderful children and grandchildren who have traveled from all over to be there with her.

    The link you posted cited speed as the cause of the accident. Many of us who knew Jerry knew him to be extremely cautious and has driven millions of miles in all sorts of vehicles from fire trucks to pulling fifth wheel trailers. It would be very uncharacteristic of him to be doing anything dangerous, especially as a retired firefighter — we teased his driving style to be akin to a little old lady.

    My heart goes out to the O’Neil family and the others injured in this terrible accident.

  3. Sara R

    My husband and I saw the accident. It happened right in front of us. We were in the far left lane and saw the car come through the grass kicking up dirt onto the road. The car came to a stop in front of our lane. My husband was able to drive to the left and backend of the car. We were so scared and was able to advoid hitting the car again. We call 911, but since we had our young daughter with us – we didn’t stop. We were worried that if we stopped there would be a chance of getting hit from behind as cars were coming upon the wreck. I am so sorry about the death and feel terrible for all the families involved.

  4. Guy

    My heart goes out to everyone involved in the accident.

    We drove north just after the accident occurred and before emergency vehicles arrived (we saw ambulance and fire truck on the on-ramp). As we passed the accident site, we could see one dark-colored car with the front completely crumpled. Other vehicles were involved, but we were concentrating on driving and could not see them as clearly.

    Immediately before arriving at the scene, we had experienced a sudden burst of extremely heavy rain, lowered visibility, and hydroplaning. That hydroplaning was scary! It’s easy to imagine how control could be lost. Legal speed that had been safe before we hit that burst of rain had instantly become unsafe.

  5. Carley

    I too have known Jerry for at least 30 years. They were like a second family to me when I was growing up. Jerry and Karen are some of the kindest people I know who have the biggest and most loving family. I know the family will surround eachother to get through this tough time.

    I agree with LOM in the fact that you just had to know Jerry to know that they are wrong….speed was not the issue. Mother nature struck…thats all. It’s too bad that people assume the worst in someone when they don’t even know the real facts.

    We are keeping the whole family in our thoughts and prayers and wish Karen and others involved a full and fast recovery. Jerry will be missed by so many.

  6. Makayla

    Jerry and Karen O’Neil are my grandparents. I for sure know speed was not an issue because I to used to always make fun of my grandpa for driving slowly, But he always answered “Stop being a back-seat driver! ”
    I know that every person in this world that knew him will miss his warm welcoming smile. Whenever we walked up to the front door in the mornings to visit you would either smell pancakes or he would be the first one outside to greet you and grandma right behind him.
    In the past few weeks I got the chance to go to Arizona and visit grandma and grandpa along with my cousin Ashton. When we were in the air port getting ready to head home to our home around the Seattle area and as we were stepping on the plane the very last words he has ever said to me was ” I love you!! Have a safe trip home!!!. ”
    On Saturday we were at an event for some of our family and when we were done we called their cellphone. They didnt answer and we left a message. After this happening about 4 or 5 times of getting the answering machine from about 2:45 to 5:00 is when we started worry. Then my uncle who was with us at the time got a call and told us that grandma and grandpa were in a car accident and grandma was in the hospital and grandpa didnt make it.

    May grandpa rest in peace!!!

  7. Sam

    These sites are incredibly amazing. Being from the ‘other’ non-tech generation, this is such a great tool to express our feelings to the ‘family’. As Karen is about to have a very long and tedious recovery, this will give her considerable reading material. To the ‘kids-next-door’ your comments will again confirm how much both your parents are loved, and how very much we all feel deeply feel your loss.

  8. Teak

    “Big Jerry” is my brother inlaw and, pretty much as everyone above has stated he drove like an old lady. I played golf with Big Jerry when he and my sister came back to the east coast for visits. I will miss playing golf with him and hearing some of his history stories. The last time they were here on the east coast, my brother inlaw Tom Waite, his brother Jeff and I took Big Jerry to a Catatonk Golf coarse in Canton. There was one hole they had been rebuilt, that was a very long par 5. After we hit our second or third shot, there was this huge pond between us and the green. Big Jerry started bitching (in a fun way) about who the hell built this hole. There was no way to go around it, so you had to go over. I don’t remember how many balls we lost on that one hole but I did agree with Big Jerry. Older golfers and women should get like a par 10 on that one hole. We had a great time together playing golf and he will be truely missed. But I am pretty sure that him and my dad (Gus) are playing 18 holes on the great golf course in the sky. I love you all and will be seeing you in the near future to help Karen with her recovery.

  9. Alan Fisher

    Dear Karen and Family, Our hearts and prayers are with you. We will continue to pray for your healing during a difficult time. Jerry and Karen sound like wonderful people. I remember you both from a family reunion but unforunatly never got to know you very well. God Bless you. Alan and Family

  10. gary says:

    Dear Karen.extended family, and “our children”.We were very sad to hear the news. Both Dar and I are grateful for the recent time we spent together at Brian’s graduation. We will visit soon as we head out a week from this Sunday, and yes we will be careful. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Together we all raised a bunch of good,strong children,grand children and great grand children that will get you through these difficult times. Gary/Dar

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  11. Lori

    My family and two other families were in the Southbound lane right behind the accident, we were on our way to Bend for Spring Vacation. The car I was traveling in was probably less than twenty cars behind the accident. I don’t think speed was the cause of the accident but any speed was a problem right then. It was defintly nature it was the weirdest event that happened to us in along time. All at once within a minute it was a heavy hale, sleet storm and put a film on the road right away. It was very scary and the friend I was with immediatly pumped her brakes which was good because immediatly all the cars had red tail lights ahead and we had to stop suddenly. We knew right away something happened, but we had a huge tractor trailer ahead of us. People stopped in the Northbound lane so we knew it wasn’t good. I have to say I was very impressed how fast the emergency response team got there. I am very sorry for the families involved. We were able to get through the scene fairly quickly we were in the middle lane and they let about five cars go through middle lane and then right lane. Our two other families traveling with us took about 45 minutes to get through the scene. As we went by the scene we did see the two cars that were the worst and instantly felt saddened. We did see a lady in the first car getting medical attention and in the second car they were helping a women in the front seat. There was a gentlemen just sitting in the back seat with his legs towards the outside with the door open, he looked like in shock. It really hits everyone who witnesses such an accident or even to drive by. I know the three families with myself thought about the family all week, and did find out that night the driver did not make it (by the interenet)it saddends your heart. It was really good to read all the families stories and what a great family this was, thank you. It seems to heal the heart a little, even though I did not know this family. You somehow feel closer after something like this. All take care!


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