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Hwy. 99 reopens after deadly crash brings down massive overhead sign

Crews clean up after a deadly crash brought down a massive overhead sign into Hwy. 99. (KOMO News photo)

SEATTLE - A teenager is dead after a fiery, high-speed crash took out a massive freeway sign overnight and shut down busy Highway 99 in South Seattle for hours. The highway has now reopened in both directions.

State troopers and medics responded to the scene, near South Cloverdale Street, at around 10:40 p.m. Thursday after receiving reports that a large overhead sign had crashed down onto the pavement and was blocking the highway.

When first responders arrived, they found the crumpled wreckage of a 2008 BMW in flames and said it was clear that the driver, a 17-year-old male, did not survive. He was the only one in the car.

Highway 99 was closed in both directions after the crash. Southbound lanes were reopened a few hours later, but the northbound lanes remain closed until about 8:45 a.m. Friday, snarling the morning commute and creating a long traffic jam.

A preliminary investigation found that high speed was the obvious cause of the crash. It appears the driver, later identified as Jonathan A. Tesorueda, 17, of Seattle, lost control and slammed into a pole supporting the overhead sign. The car burst into flames on impact, and the overhead sign then crashed onto the highway.

The force of the impact was so strong it sent pieces of metal and wood clear off the freeway, hitting cars in a parking lot not far from the crash scene.

Crews worked all night to clear the crash scene.

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