Fatal Highway 3 crash completely stops traffic

Three car collision kills one driver, brings traffic to a standstill

POULSBO – Highway 3 was completely shut down due to a fatal collision involving a semi, panel van and a small passenger car early March 13. Both lanes of travel were reopened at 10:58 a.m.

Update – The fatality involved a male driving a white panel van and he was pronounced deceased on scene. The male driver of the large work truck was treated for minor injuries, and released on scene. A third male, who was driving a small passenger car also involved in the collision, was treated for minor injuries and released on scene. The Washington State Patrol remains to conduct their investigation.Earlier post – Highway 3 is completely shut down, just south of the Big Valley Road interchange, for a multiple car versus truck fatal collision. More information to follow.

Posted by Kitsap FD 18 Poulsbo Fire Department on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The three-vehicle collision occurred near the Big Valley Road interchange, just south of Lofall Road. The driver of a panel van, a 65-year-old Port Angeles man was pronounced deceased at the scene. The other drivers involved did not appear to have any serious injuries.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Russ Winger said he received reports of an accident on March 13, around 7 a.m. An early investigation, Winger said, seemed to reveal that a van was traveling northbound when it crossed the center line before striking a southbound semi just behind the cab.

“After the van struck the semi, it veered back toward the right and the passenger car that was trailing that white van couldn’t stop and struck the rear of the white van,” Winger explained.

This is the second traffic-halting collision to occur on the stretch of highway in four days. On March 9 a crash occurred near Pioneer Way and Tytler Road, which blocked off both lanes of traffic.

The early morning crash isn’t even the first fatal head-on collision to happen in the last six months. On Sept. 27, 2017 a motorcyclist traveling north toward the Hood Canal Bridge was struck and killed by a vehicle after it crossed the center line near Big Valley Road and State Route 3. It was later determined that the driver of the vehicle had been under the influence when the collision occurred.

“Anytime you have two-lane opposing, high speed traffic, it’s not safe in my opinion,” Winger said. “With the high volume up there and with the traffic stopping and going, things happen. It’s somewhere we go quite often.”

According to Winger the Washington State Department of Transportation needs to widen the road along State Route 3 and separate the lanes of travel.

“Eventually they’re going to have to widen that [road] and make it separated, at least two lanes and possibly some sort of barrier … Eventually that’s going to have to happen there, but who knows when that will be.”

Winger suggested that drivers traveling on Highway 3 maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead and obey posted speed limits. Driver distractions, Winger added, also play a big role in causing otherwise preventable collisions.

“We’ve found that distractions cause a lot of the problems that we have today. People are looking down, or doing other things that take their eyes off the road and rear end people that are in front of them, stopped in traffic, or cross the center line.”

At 10:58 a.m. Winger reported that the scene had been cleared and reopened to traffic.

— Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at ntwietmeyer@soundpublishing.com

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