Elk blamed for overnight rollover crashes on I-90 near Cle Elum

Wash. State Patrol photo shows accident scene

CLE ELUM, Wash. - Eastbound Interstate 90 was closed for four hours overnight after two separate rollover crashes involving elk on the freeway, the Washington State Patrol reports.

Troopers responded to the first crash, about two miles west of Cle Elum, at 1:04 a.m. Tuesday after receiving reports of a semi truck crashing and rolling over.

The semi tractor-trailer rig was found on its side at the scene, blocking all lanes. The driver was uninjured.

A preliminary investigation found that the semi was heading east on I-90 when the driver swerved to avoid a dead elk in the roadway. The semi veered off the roadway to the right, the driver overcorrected and the semi rolled over and landed on its side, fully blocking the eastbound lanes.

Troopers and medics responded to the second crash, about three miles to the west and three minutes later, after receiving reports of a two-vehicle rollover crash.

A beige Mazda sedan was found rolled onto its top in the median, and a semi rig was pulled over on the shoulder nearby.

The three occupants of the Mazda were injured and taken to the hospital. The semi driver was uninjured.

A preliminary investigation found that the semi and the Mazda were both heading east on I-90 when the semi hit an elk that was standing on the freeway. The Mazda driver swerved to avoid the elk that had been struck, lost control, and the car rolled over onto its top in the median.

The crash investigations and cleanup closed all eastbound lanes of I-90 at the scene. The freeway was reopened at around 5 a.m.

Trooper Brian Moore of the State Patrol urges all drivers in that area to keep a sharp eye out for elk between Cle Elum and Vantage. He said the elk are still in their winter range near I-90 and have not yet moved to higher elevations.

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