9 am UPDATE February 7
Mattawa-Troopers are investigating a driver of a semi-truck and trailer loaded with apples who lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the river along State Route 243 at milepost 18.5.
Witnesses tell troopers the driver was going too fast for the conditions when he lost control of his rig while driving through the S curves. Witnesses describe conditions as snowy and icy with slush on the road. Next, the semi-truck struck the guardrail and rolled down the embankment and into the Columbia River. The cab of the truck remained on shore while the trailer loaded with apples detached and floated downstream towards the Priest Rapids Dam. The collision caused a several hour closure of the north bound lanes of SR243.
A tow truck pulled the cab of the vehicle from the river. Grand County Public Utility District (PUD) assisted the Washington State Patrol by launching two boats to pull the drifting trailer from the Columbia River to shore. The trailer ended up floating into a sand bar. Grant County PUD secured the trailer to the sand bar to prevent it from floating down river and into the dam. The trailer is still intact with all of the apples securely inside.
The driver of the semi suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital.
”Slow down and drive for the weather condition,” urges Washington State Patrol Public Information Officer Trooper Brian Moore,” These types of collisions are preventable.”