By Eric Stevick Herald staff
INDEX — Collision investigators are trying to determine what caused a three-car fatal crash on U.S. 2 near Index on Friday morning.
The accident occurred shortly after 11 a.m on a curvy stretch near Eagle Falls Creek, according to the Washington State Patrol.
It was the second straight day that saw a fatal crash on a stretch of U.S. 2 in Snohomish County. One man died and a Snohomish man and his son were injured after a head-on collision near Snohomish on Thursday morning.
On Friday, troopers said a Dodge Caravan was headed west when it crossed the centerline, sideswiped one car and collided head-on with a Toyota Camry.
The van driver — a Wenatchee man, 65 — was taken by ambulance to the Gold Bar Fire Station, where a helicopter was waiting to fly him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He died at the fire station, Trooper Keith Leary said.
The van crossed the mountain pass with a large load of fruit. The man’s son, 34, was in the front passenger seat and did not need hospital treatment.
The driver of the Camry, a Marysville woman, 65, was taken to Valley General Hospital in Monroe as a precaution.
“She was extremely lucky,” Leary said.
A Shoreline couple whose Chrysler New Yorker was sideswiped were not injured. They are 86 and 81.
“We will be waiting for the autopsy (and) toxicology report to see if prescription medication or a medical condition may have been factors,” Leary said. “We still have questions to answer.”
Investigators also will be looking into whether the weight of the fruit, combined with the speed of travel and the curve in the roadway, could have been factors.
“They had a pretty significant load,” Leary said.
Friday’s crash closed the highway for more than two hours.
Since 1999, at least 60 people have died in crashes along U.S. 2 between Everett and Stevens Pass, state records show. Transportation crews and law enforcement agencies have worked over the years to make road improvements and to stress the need to drive safely on U.S. 2 in Snohomish County.
Until Thursday, there had not been a serious accident on that stretch of highway for 54 days.
In Thursday’s crash, a man in a stolen Honda died when he crossed the centerline and collided with a pickup truck, the State Patrol reported.
Troopers had not identified the man as of Friday, Leary said.
The driver of the pickup Friday remained in serious condition in the intensive care unit at Harborview, hospital officials said.