Another wave of winter hit eastern Oregon and Washington on Tuesday, shutting down Interstate 82 in two places and snarling traffic elsewhere.
Most Eastern Oregon highways remained open Tuesday after heavy snow forced their closure for much of the weekend, but icy conditions led to a wreck on the Interstate 82 bridge at Umatilla and the eastbound lanes near Coffin Road in Washington.
Oregon State Police Sgt. Seth Cooney said the bridge closure started when a blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup was heading into Washington, hit a patch of ice at the apex of the bridge, spun out and blocked traffic.
“It is a parking lot out there all the way over to the Washington side,” he said late in the afternoon.
And at 6 p.m., Cooney said vehicles remained backed-up on the Washington side of the bridge and both directions of traffic was closed. He said he was working the long line of tractor-trailers stopped along I-84.
Coming the other way, about halfway between Kennewick and Umatilla, a multi-vehicle pileup including an unknown number of semis and passenger vehicles stopped traffic at about 2:40 p.m.
Caroline Jared, who lives in Hermiston and works as a nurse in Richland, was among the first vehicles stopped behind the wreck.
“I’m glad I did,” she said, “I was next in line for the dogpile.”
Tow trucks were working to remove the wrecked vehicles after 6 p.m., and Jared was stuck with other motorists. She has been commuting to the Tri-Cities for the past 15 years and said this is the worst wreck she has seen in that time.
She also said on her way to work Tuesday morning a FedEx truck had rolled at the same spot.
In Hermiston, a red sedan sustained major damage to the front end when it hit a maroon Ford F-150 that was heading west on Theater Lane at the intersection of Highways 395.
Braylin McIntyre, who was driving the sedan, said he, his wife Katherine — who is pregnant — and their 1-1/2-year-old son were all safe and uninjured. Those in the other car — two women and three young children — were also not injured.
“We had a green light, and they had a yellow. She (the other driver) said she just wasn’t anticipating me coming that fast,” said McIntyre. “It’s good they got farther ahead. There were three babies in the back of that truck.”
The collision mangled the front of the sedan, and the F-150 appeared to have sustained some damage to the back. The driver of the F-150 said everyone in her vehicle was safe but would not comment on the crash.
Hermiston police were on scene to direct traffic, and the sedan was towed from the intersection.
Hermiston and Pendleton have both seen more than 14 inches of snow since the beginning of December, according to the National Weather Service office in Pendleton. That’s about double the average for the Dec. 1-Jan. 10 timespan.
Phil Wright, Jayati Ramakrishnan and Daniel Wattenburger contributed to this report.