PIERCE COUNTY, WA — Authorities are searching for the driver and vehicle responsible for a rogue tire that hit and killed two people last Thursday on Interstate 5 in Lakewood, reports FOX 13 Seattle.
The fatal incident occurred on the northbound side of I-5 near Bridgeport Way Southwest (Exit 125), at about 5:30 a.m.
According to the Washington State Patrol, eight passengers were aboard a carpool van heading northbound from Shelton when a stray tire crashed through the vehicle’s windshield. Authorities said the tire narrowly missed the van’s driver, front-seat passenger, and passengers to the left and right side, but ultimately struck two occupants in the center seats of the second and fourth row.
The victims, 22-year-old Denilso Tomas Lopez and 55-year-old Martin Matias Mendoza, were both pronounced deceased at the scene.
Authorities said one other victim was transported to a hospital for unspecified injuries, but the other five occupants were not hurt.
On Friday, September 22, the WSP released a photo of a white, newer-model, heavy duty Ford pickup truck towing a car hauler trailer, which is believed to be connected to the lost tire. Investigators say the truck, possibly a F-350 model or larger bears “a color matched front bumper, chrome grille, LED headlights,” with a Department of Transportation number posted along its side. The Ford may also be classified at Lariat trim level or higher.
A number of witnesses say the Ford was traveling northbound, just south of Bridgeport Way, when the tire, which “appeared to be sparking or on fire,” dislodged from the right side of the attached trailer’s rear axle. It was seen hitting the jersey barrier along the left side of the roadway before it bounced off of a light pole and crashed through the van. The Ford and attached trailer was observed continuing northbound on I-5, past Mounts Road moments before the fatal incident.
Anyone who may have relevant information about the location of the causing vehicle is urged to contact WSP Trooper Cody Fath via email at [email protected], or by calling 360-764-0922.
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