UPDATE: Deadly motorcycle crash on NB 99; fifth rider killed in 5 years at Viaduct’s south end

(UPDATED 4:35 PM SUNDAY with new information from SPD)

10:30 PM: Seattle Police say they’re investigating a deadly motorcycle crash on the NB Alaskan Way Viaduct. Exactly where, we don’t know yet, but the eastbound bridge exit to NB 99 is reported to be closed. More information when we get it.

10:52 PM: SDOT confirms that the NB 99 closure starts at the West Seattle Bridge. A traffic camera indicates the crash happened on the rise to the elevated section of the Viaduct, in the stadium zone.

(Added: Traffic-camera image showing SPD investigator working at crash scene on NB Viaduct)
11:16 PM: This is at least the fifth deadly motorbike crash in that area of 99 in five years. From our archives, a crash killed a 34-year-old man in 2014, also on the northbound side, where 30-year-old Nathaniel Hammer died in 2013; less than 24 hours after that crash, a 52-year-old motor-scooter rider was killed in a crash. On the southbound curve at that end, 48-year-old West Seattle musician/therapist Lisa Mills was killed in 2012.

1:50 AM The highway has reopened.

ADDED 4:35 PM SUNDAY: From SPD Blotter:

Police were called to investigate a fatality collision on the Alaskan Way Viaduct around 9:40 p.m. last night. Preliminary indications are that speed played a factor in the collision.

According to witnesses, a 22-year-old man was traveling in the northbound lanes of the viaduct when he lost control of his motorcycle, struck a concrete barrier, and fell to the surface streets below.

Seattle Fire Department medics provided emergency care at the scene, but were unable to revive the man.

Traffic Collision Investigation detectives responded to the scene, processed the collision site and collected evidence.

This is an active and ongoing investigation. Information is subject to change as the investigation proceeds.

ADDED: The rider has been identified as 21-year-old Isaac Barajas.

34 Replies to "UPDATE: Deadly motorcycle crash on NB 99; fifth rider killed in 5 years at Viaduct's south end"

  • North of Admiral March 11, 2017 (11:05 pm)

    RIP fellow rider. :(

  • Westside kid March 11, 2017 (11:19 pm)

    Rest easy brother prays for the family 😢

  • Krista March 11, 2017 (11:25 pm)

    I saw the body. It looks like he went over the edge on to the road underneath. RIP.

    • WSB March 11, 2017 (11:36 pm)

      Both some early scanner traffic and also the location of the medical call – 1st Avenue S. rather than 99 – would seem to indicate that.

  • Rider March 11, 2017 (11:59 pm)

    Anything riders should know about this particular stretch? Or is it the rain and curve together? 

    • JanS March 12, 2017 (1:28 am)

      weather, the curve, the rise, and speed?  Sad , really… this rider is not the first to go over  the rail like that…really sorry to hear this :(

    • Concerned Rider March 12, 2017 (3:14 am)

      I happened to be driving by tonight and saw the body. It looked like the rider had been ejected over the guard rail. From the previous 3 northbound accidents mentioned above, 2 of the reports state that the rider was ejected over the rail, and in all 3 “speed was a factor” and no other vehicle was involved. Based on those details, my best guess is that riders don’t anticipate the sudden curve and are going too fast for it. There is a sign that indicates the curve ahead and recommends reducing speed to 25mph (see image below); however, I can see how it might be hard to notice with all of the construction going on right there.

      • Jimmy March 12, 2017 (11:25 am)

        That curve is tricky. It’s quite a bit tighter / less gradual than it looks. And that is exacerbated by the fact that the preceding S curves are nice and gentle. 

        Also, I believe those preceding curves also have a 25mph limit, but then you go through them and think “well that wasn’t so bad”, and are doubly caught off guard.

    • Mary March 12, 2017 (4:32 am)

      Excessive speed? Advisory speed limit through this area is 25 MPH. Speed limit on Hwy 99 before/after this area is 40 MPH.

      • WSB March 12, 2017 (8:00 am)

        Police have not released any further information overnight, so we don’t even know so far if they suspect another vehicle was involved.

  • Tyler March 12, 2017 (12:49 am)

    It wasn’t raining at the time, at least when I went by the scene as police where pulling in. Though it had been raining so it was likely wet and slippery.

    I  thought I saw the riders helmet about thirty feet away. May have came off. Really sad. Keep your chin strap tight, go slow, be safe.

    The least the city can do is put a warning sign up for motorcycles if this serious issue is reoccurring.

  • Jackie March 12, 2017 (8:26 am)

    Why do we have all these 2nd guessers on what and why this happened? A family has lost a loved one be considerate to their feelings and keep you comments to yourself.

    My condolences  to the riders family.

    • Alki Resident March 12, 2017 (10:30 am)

      Why can’t people comment like adults without being monitored?

    • Tray March 12, 2017 (11:04 am)

      We’re second guessing and discussing this so it doesn’t happen to anyone else 

      • Concerned Rider March 12, 2017 (1:05 pm)

        Well said Tray. I haven’t seen any “second guessing.” Just people trying to understand how it happened so it might be avoided in the future (especially since it keeps happening in the same spot). And most were a direct response to an honest question posed by a commenter:
        “Anything riders should know about this particular stretch?”

  • Sunuva March 12, 2017 (8:46 am)

    At the very least a motorcycle caution sign needs to go up here. I always feel uneasy riding my bike through those curves, especially when it’s wet. The curves are tight and uneven but there are also metal joints in the road that can be slicker than the paved portions. I always imagine hitting those metal joints mid-turn and losing traction. Sad to hear this has happened again. RIP.

  • Dale March 12, 2017 (9:19 am)

    Is it possible to put “netting” or something on the curve to stop this?  Since this is the 3rd event this is an ongoing problem and needs to be addressed. 

  • David March 12, 2017 (9:47 am)

    My wife and I were leaving Pioneer Square and saw the body lying in the middle of the street right behind the triangular pub where Alaskan Way and 1st Ave meet. At first we thought maybe it was a shooting but when we saw police blocking all the ramps to NB 99 along our route home we realized something must have happened on 99 and the person fell off the ramp, and unfortunately I see now that’s the case. Based on all of my experience driving through that area my theory is speed was the primary factor. Just hours earlier on our way to Pioneer Square yesterday we were doing the posted 40 mph on NB 99 before that curve and there were cars flying by us doing at least 60 mph. And then of course people don’t slow down enough at the curves where this crash happened, which can then result in tragic incidents like this. Most people in this city seem to think those speed limit signs, especially the yellow ones, are just decorations. Drive any time of the day on the West Seattle Bridge and you’ll see how correct I am.

    • JVP March 12, 2017 (1:06 pm)

      Peace to the fallen rider and his/her family.  I hate hearing about accidents like this.

      The stupidly low speed limits on things like the WS Bridge are part of the problem.  They’re too low for the design of the roadway, and thus ignored by the majority of drivers.  When some low speed limits are unreasonable, it creates an expectation that all low speed limits in Seattle are unreasonable. It’s poor design.

      If the city or WashDOT want to lower speeds in a zone, they can’t just post low speed limit signs.  That doesn’t work!  They also have to change the design of the road through traffic calming techniques to match the desired speed limit.  Narrower lanes, curb bulbs, street trees, etc.  These things all can bring speeds down. 

      Safety needs to be addressed through design, not just signs.  Our region had been getting better about this, but I feel like they’re reverting to trying to control speeds by only lowering signed limits.  The WS Bridge, 35th, Admiral Way, etc.  This approach has negative unintended consequences for safety.

  • Joe March 12, 2017 (9:52 am)

    R.I.P. rider.

  • LisaR March 12, 2017 (9:56 am)

    There is something we ALL can do: slow down on the bridge.  I find myself going too fast on the bridge in traffic frequently.  It’s something that we all need to try to control. 

  • Citizen Sane March 12, 2017 (10:30 am)

    Those 25mph advisory signs are there for a reason! Too many people don’t think the laws of physics apply to them.

  • Mr X March 12, 2017 (11:51 am)

    Whoever this person was, they are now  a Ghost Rider:

    My condolences to their friends, lovers, and family.

  • Chris March 12, 2017 (1:47 pm)

    I used to commute through there regularly.  Like others said, speed was probably a factor.  The preceeding curves also have a 25 mph limit, but they aren’t that big of a deal.  It lures you into a state of complacency.  If you’re going through the area during rush hour with a lot of other traffic, you don’t have much of a problem.  The other traffic slows you down enough.  But if you’re in a break in traffic, or a time of day when there isn’t any traffic…you could definitely be caught unawares.

    Yes, my prayers are with the rider and his family.  A loved one was lost.  Let’s hope others learn and don’t make the same mistake.

  • dsa March 12, 2017 (2:28 pm)

    As long as it is apparent this danger exists, I hope steps are taken to now put up better motorcycle warnings than the 25 advisory speed sign.

  • cardriver March 12, 2017 (3:36 pm)

     The speed limit  for that section of road is 40MPH. The yellow speed limit signs you see are ADVISORY ONLY signs.  They are NOT actual speed limit signs which are ALWAYS white with black numbers. The yellow advisory signs are there as a SUGGESTED speed for those who are concerned with their,or their cars ability to go the posted limit.

  • WSB March 12, 2017 (4:37 pm)

    Just added information published to SPD Blotter this afternoon.

  • jissy March 12, 2017 (6:27 pm)

    Sunuva:  Your are right to be wary of those metal joints — many years ago I was heading to church downtown, hit one of those in my boyfriend’s Mustang as I gently accelerated having just gotten on the straightaway from the onramp, spun 270 degrees and then the car died while I was facing due east across all 3 lanes (and it wasn’t even wet).  Thank God it was a weekend…. I had just enough time to restart the car and get it heading North but was so lucky there wasn’t another car in sight until I got going again. It terrified me and I’m glad I didn’t cause injury to anyone else.  Those expansion joints have always seemed just a little too wide to me.

    Rest in peace dear rider.

  • Emily Wood March 13, 2017 (7:54 pm)

    We love you sweetie. You will be missed 😥 I Know the family & him very well. Grew up with him As my nabor. I’m so sorry you had to leave this world so early in life. But God as better bigger plans for you in heaven ❤ I love you & will be praying for your family to heal from your lose. 

    • KRISTOPHER PRIVAT March 17, 2017 (5:36 pm)

      Emily. My name is Kris. I was holding his head and comforting him as he passed. As best as one could. I hope that provides some comfort to you. He wasn’t alone. 

  • TheOne March 17, 2017 (11:31 pm)

    Today we laid him to rest in his home town of Yakima.  Hundreds showed up for his funeral service.  He was an awesome friend and loved everyone no matter what.  You left us so soon bro…  Too soon. 

  • Connie March 19, 2017 (7:16 pm)

    I am so sorry to hear of yet another life lost in a motorcycle accident on the ramp to the West Seattle Bridge. My son Ryan also lost his life on the south bound 99 ramp to the West Seattle Bridge September 11, 2016. He also separated from his bike and fell to the street below.  Why is this happening?  I would like to see change to these ramps so that no one else has to die on a motorcycle, nets would help.

  • Jess March 27, 2017 (7:23 pm)

    Does anyone have interest/knowledge in some sort of legislative action to modify these guardrails at critical spots to make them safer?  A high fence or rail would have saved Ryan’s life and the life of at least some of the other riders (I only know details of the crash on Sept 10th 2016).  But if enough of us create a movement…  

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