Update: Northbound 99 open again, after 2nd deadly crash in 17 hours

(Update: Stuck vehicles cleared, 99 still closed northbound)
2:58 PM: Just dispatched: Seattle Police and Fire units are going to the scene of a reported crash on Northbound 99 involving a motorcycle and car, not far from last night’s crash that killed a motorcyclist. If you’re heading toward downtown, avoid 99 for now – sounds like it’s about to be blocked off. More as we get it.

3:09 PM: Northbound 99 is now blocked off, per scanner traffic – as far south as, south of the West Seattle Bridge. At least one person is seriously hurt – they have already called for the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad, and that means it’s likely to be closed a few hours (last night’s crash investigation closed 99 for four hours).

3:16 PM UPDATE: Police are now describing this as a motorcycle/guardrail crash, not motorcycle/car. They are continuing to keep vehicle traffic from getting onto 99, but they are also trying to figure out how to get trapped traffic off the highway.

3:33 PM UPDATE: Adding “live” image of West Seattle Bridge, where this is causing a morning type of scene since the northbound 99 exit is closed TFN:

3:39 PM UPDATE: Police say the motorcyclist is dead – second motorcycle rider killed in a crash in this area in 17 hours.

4:50 PM UPDATE: Still closed – refresh this page for updated camera views above, especially the top one, which won’t show cars again on the right side until northbound 99 reopens. Southbound 99 *is* open. Meantime, buses are affected, says Metro: “Viaduct buses heading toward downtown Seattle are currently rerouted … and will travel via 1st Av S or 4th Av S depending upon the route and destination, with no missed stops. Expect delays in transit service.”

6:08 PM UPDATE: Northbound 99 is still closed, no ETA but we’ll be watching, and if you notice it reopened first, let us know, IF you are a passenger or else after you get to your destination.

7:22 PM UPDATE: As of a few minutes ago, as commenters have pointed out (thanks!), Northbound 99 has reopened.

9:32 PM UPDATE: Police have published an update on SPD Blotter, saying the victim was a 52-year-old man riding a 500cc Aprilia motor scooter.

73 Replies to "Update: Northbound 99 open again, after 2nd deadly crash in 17 hours"

  • Andy September 26, 2013 (3:05 pm)

    From my office near the stadiums: NB 99 is completely stopped.

    • WSB September 26, 2013 (3:07 pm)

      Yup, and they might have to U-turn some people to get them off, per scanner – thanks for the viewpoint. – TR

  • EyeintheSky September 26, 2013 (3:07 pm)

    I work in the Columbia Tower and it doesn’t look good. The person is covered, they did not make it. Very sad.

  • Andy September 26, 2013 (3:08 pm)

    Oy. Some of these folks aren’t going anywhere for a long time.

  • Sunrise Heights September 26, 2013 (3:08 pm)

    Looks like the viaduct is closed northbound. I can see the fire trucks and ambulances out my office window. This is between Jackson and King streets.

    • WSB September 26, 2013 (3:09 pm)

      I’m updating main story in a minute but they’re blocking northbound 99 as far south as SOUTH of the bridge, diverting people onto W. Marginal Way –

  • Chivahn September 26, 2013 (3:14 pm)

    Glad I’m working late tonight, I guess. Hope everyone is ok!

  • Kelley September 26, 2013 (3:28 pm)

    I’m glad I will be heading SB, but Dang, twice in less then 24 hrs? What is going on here?

  • Sunrise Heights September 26, 2013 (3:29 pm)

    One lane of cars is getting through right now. I’m guessing moving those through that were stuck.

  • smokeycretin9 September 26, 2013 (3:33 pm)

    I am not speculating on what caused this and last nights fatality, but please for the love of god people, put down your phones and pay attention to what’s going on around you. motorcycles don’t just naturally drift into barriers. I am almost too scared to ride in the city anymore

  • AG September 26, 2013 (3:39 pm)

    Yikes, ANOTHER one? Makes me wonder if there’s a roadway issue along there somewhere. How horrible.

  • 4thGenWestside September 26, 2013 (3:39 pm)

    We are in the traffic mess. Wrecked motorcycle close to Seneca exit. Shoe in the road and a body bag. Not good.

    • WSB September 26, 2013 (3:46 pm)

      I’ve added to the story – the motorcycle rider has died.

  • Amanda September 26, 2013 (3:50 pm)

    Any Metro updates so far?

    • WSB September 26, 2013 (3:59 pm)

      Amanda – buses are being held somewhere and I heard a fragment of scanner traffic that some people wanted to get off some of the buses (to walk?) but needed police assistance because of where they are – have not seen any official advisories, though I am on the mailing lists for alerts for most local routes. Check the “eye on your metro commute” website – which tweets at http://twitter.com/kcmetrobus – TR

  • mookie September 26, 2013 (3:52 pm)

    Tragic news again. Also, photo I’ve seen of today’s vehicle looks more scooterish than motorcyclish.

  • workdowntown September 26, 2013 (3:56 pm)

    The crash is across from the new conveyer belt for Bertha. Looks like the motorcycle is still laying on its side, with one policy car, one police motorcycle and a van (ME?) Someone is taking pictures. Traffic NB not moving.

  • BP September 26, 2013 (4:07 pm)

    When I went by southbound they were routing northbound 99 traffic off via the on ramp right at the stadium. From the looks of it traffic is gridlocked on the surface streets in the stadium area so no one from ws bridge north on 99 nb is going anywhere anytime soon… There was also one of those double trailer trucks and an empty bus waiting north of the exit that probably couldn’t be turned in that narrow area to get them off the highway via that exit. Sad to hear about another motorcycle fatality there. I have seen some really ridiculous speeding and lane changing in that area lately and motorcycles just have no room for error through there… Please maintain your lanes and keep within the normal flow of traffic if you ride a bike through there!

  • Bee September 26, 2013 (4:08 pm)

    Three or four northbound buses were stopped right near century link field. Passengers climbing over the barriers to get to 1st Ave

  • KAW September 26, 2013 (4:26 pm)

    Traffic NB on 99 is not moving at all. People were getting out of their cars to try and see what was going on.

  • Citizen Sane September 26, 2013 (4:34 pm)

    Thanks for being first with the news, WSB! I’m headed downtown, and thanks to you was able to switch to the WaterTaxi. WSB ROCKS!

  • jwws September 26, 2013 (4:36 pm)

    So very tragic. Can’t help but wonder if two deadly crashes so close together are not related to road conditions from construction.

  • Amanda September 26, 2013 (4:44 pm)

    On the bus now. Traffic is standstill on Marginal Way heading north. Avoid leaving to go north at all right now via marginal or 99. I-5 north looked like it was crawling, but at least moving.

  • enough September 26, 2013 (4:50 pm)

    Sad, 2 deaths in as many days. WTH?!

  • wsn00b September 26, 2013 (4:50 pm)

    The stadium/Bertha-staging area curvy section on NB 99 climbing upto the viaduct is a fun stretch of road but with no room for error. Folks do 50-70mph on the wide/freeway-like 40mph stretch of NB-99 approaching the curves (illegal but still safer) but forget to slow down to 30 for that stretch where you actually need to watch your speed.

  • Dale September 26, 2013 (4:51 pm)

    The police have turned the on-ramp by Century Link field into an off-ramp, so cars that can make the u-turn, are slowly exiting that way. It’ll be a while before this mess is cleared.
    East bound West Seattle Bridge is a solid 2 lanes backed up all the way to by the Steel Plant.
    What a mess.

  • Joe Szilagyi September 26, 2013 (5:14 pm)

    1st Ave S northbound is a standstill in all lanes from Starbucks HQ to the 1st Ave on ramp.

    The police are blocking all but two eastbound bridge lanes now. Going by on the local 21 bus now on the way home.

    The bridge is a standstill as far as the eye can see. I imagine it’s got to be spilling all over the surface streets now.

  • Joe Szilagyi September 26, 2013 (5:19 pm)

    Yup. Lower Spokane eastbound is frozen and full at the lane split toward the bridge on ramps. Looks fine if you continue toward Marginal, the island and SODO underneath. Till you hit 1st, anyway. Avalon Way is clear. Traffic up around 35th & Avalon seems ok too.

  • Joan C September 26, 2013 (5:40 pm)

    I think part of the traffic problem is at the dogleg curves near the stadiums, people don’t seem to understand that the solid white line means no lane changes. I see people hop lanes through here every day, usually trying to speed up. Don’t they teach people any more that solid lines mean not to be crossed?

  • Wb September 26, 2013 (5:49 pm)

    Left work in Georgetown and saw the signs on 99 that All Lanes Were Blocked. Got off on 4th and tried for I 5 but roads were completely gridlocked. Got on the phone and cancelled my appointment in Lake union. Got on 1st avenue and made great time back to WS. Wsb thanks for your reporting.

  • Alice September 26, 2013 (6:01 pm)


    Since I drive on 99N every day (like many of us) I’d like to know the exact locations of these two crashes. Two motorcycles in 24 hours sounds just tight enough that they might be related to conditions of the road, the speed, the curve or something.
    A sketch/map would help me know exactly where to slow down a little more, pay extra extra attention, or whatnot. (I know, always pay attention, never drive too fast … but in some places you need to be eve more careful).
    I mostly know the names of the downtown cross-streets, but especially with the added curves to the new 99N I never know exactly what my cross-streets are anymore, except when I’m right at an exit.

  • Charles Town September 26, 2013 (6:18 pm)

    More than an hour from WEST SEA BRIDGE just to the Safe. Ugh.

    WSB– can you find out why there seem to be no traffic cops out (like a Seahawks game)?

    If they are going to close down 99 (AND run the DAMN trains), then at least ditch the lights and get us moving!

    Tragic deaths, yes. RIP Easy Riders.

    • WSB September 26, 2013 (6:23 pm)

      I got a snapshot from someone of an officer/car blocking the ramp to 99. Police also are dealing with clearing out the traffic from the MSFT meeting at KeyArena, per the scanner. And they have to guard all the onramps to the closed area – including one in SODO …

  • Diane September 26, 2013 (6:19 pm)

    I went outside 30 mins ago to find out why the helicopter was sitting over my apt building; I am just above the bridge, so could see ch7 hovering to film cars parked on the bridge; just now looked out east windows to view of bridge; eastbound still a parking lot

  • carole September 26, 2013 (6:39 pm)

    As for where to slow down on the curves, people simply aren’t observing the various posted speed limits which range from 25 to 40. I was on 99 yesterday and people were swapping lanes, speeding. Happens every time I use 99. I don’t know about those other drivers but I have lots better things I would rather spend $100+ on than a ticket.

  • Westsider September 26, 2013 (6:43 pm)

    Just saw some investigative cars driving off seen from WS ferry, so maybe soon?

  • AMS September 26, 2013 (7:07 pm)

    Ah. That explains why it took me two hours to get from Georgetown to Capitol Hill. The best was when I finally got off Marginal Way onto Spokane, and a train was stuck on the tracks going forward… then backward… then forward again… then backward again for 20 minutes. You know when you see a city utility vehicle flipping U-turns and hopping dividers to turn around that it’s bad….

  • M September 26, 2013 (7:14 pm)

    On 120 Bus heading south from downtown, just announced Viaduct is now open. 7:14pm

  • lee September 26, 2013 (7:16 pm)

    99 N open per SDOT camera

    • WSB September 26, 2013 (7:21 pm)

      yup, Metro just confirmed it too! thanks! updating story

  • Olly September 26, 2013 (7:27 pm)

    I echo over and over on this forum about watching out for motorcyclists and it has no impact. 2 in 24 hours? Find me someone who claims cars weren’t involved and I’ll find you a liar… I’m so sick and f#$king tired of this. I watch you people on my ride in and out of town every day – talking on your phones, checking your email, putting on your lipstick… Worst of all, somebody dies and all you care about is traffic slowing down and how it inconveniences you. If I see you out there endangering a biker you can expect me to roll up next to you and set you straight. Prayers to the bikers, their families and loved ones.

  • Joe September 26, 2013 (7:56 pm)

    Oddly enough, in the traffic jam, I was passed a few times by impatient motorcyclists weaving their way through the mess illegally.

  • Mike September 26, 2013 (8:23 pm)

    Olly, the action you mention you’d take is one that has resulted in many motorcyclists crashing or being hit by the person they feel entitled to set straight. I know, when I was in high school a teacher almost hit my parents van I was driving trying to make sure I knew he had a point to make, he nearly lost control of his bike doing that. It’s called road rage and is illegal, don’t be the problem, be the one to take the higher road and prevent an accident. We know nothing about these accidents other than the motorcyclist crashed and died. It’s sad, let’s get the info from SPD and then work to resolve the causes and prevent more of these.

  • flimflam September 26, 2013 (8:31 pm)

    sorry, unrelated to this story, but what happened to the child being hit by a car? post has vanished?

  • Marty September 26, 2013 (8:35 pm)

    2hours from West Sea to Queen Anne.

  • flimflam September 26, 2013 (8:38 pm)

    says under “big stories”, “child hit by car”. so did this not happen?

    • WSB September 26, 2013 (9:18 pm)

      Flimflam, thanks for your comment. While out in the field I accidentally filed one story in the scratchpad over the spot in the content system held by the crash story, and might not have noticed it for a while except for your comment. Restored now. – TR

  • Keith September 26, 2013 (9:47 pm)

    This is very sad and I can’t believe there were two fatal moto accidents in a 17 hour period in the same area.

    @ Joe’s comment above, I actually think they should legalize lane splitting in Washington just like California. Yes maybe its dangerous but we have a bad traffic situation here no far off from LA. Ever sat on a bike in 90 degree weather in traffic? Not fun.

    And stop using your damn phones while driving. I’m so sick of seeing people texting and driving. You are a rolling time bomb.

    • WSB September 26, 2013 (9:48 pm)

      Please note, we’ve added a link to updated information. Police now describe this as a “scooter” – although from what little I know about two-wheelers, I’d think 500cc is a fairly powerful “scooter” …

  • bswans11 September 26, 2013 (9:49 pm)

    Seems to me that every transit group has their share of a$$hats – cars, motorcycles, bikes, bus riders, and peds. All I ever see is one group complaining about one of the other, but, really no solutions. It would be cool if we could all get a better understanding about why we all hate (strong word but I’ll take the radical folks angle who generally make the most non-solution noise) one anothers mode of transportation. Car people get too sucked up to what’s going on only in their “cockpit”- yes, Bikers tend to obey only the rules that suit their personal needs – yes, Motorcyclists tend to take advantage of their versatility – yes, Peds (at least around here) tend to cross roads without common sense -yes. So WTF do we do? There will be more people coming to our awesome island of WS. Regardless of how you get around, you are going to start getting annoyed at the other people who take an alternative mode of transport IF they keep saying your way sucks for whatever reason or another. Just how humans are. So, spend a minute to come up with ideas for co-existing, or the past couple days of motorcycle sadness, unexplained West Seattle car flipping, kids on bikes getting hit, etc. will continue to be par for the course. My long winded $.02.

  • Mike September 26, 2013 (10:03 pm)

    Keith, you’d find that the number of accidents and deaths would skyrocket if we did lane splitting here like southern cali. I first experienced a motorcycle lane splitting when I was in San Diego. Scared the living crap out of me. I also saw the motorcyclist clip the mirror of the guy in front of me and keep going, exceeding 80mph while lane splitting. It’s deadly, it’s not a matter of traffic, it’s a matter of life and death. The terrain in our state along with the number of days it rains or even snows is far greater than southern cali. Our roads are not as wide as theirs either. Lane splitting is a dumb idea for Cali, it’s worse for here.

  • Olly September 26, 2013 (10:23 pm)

    @Mike – I appreciate and understand what you’re saying and where you’re coming from. However, taking the high road and preventing an accident isn’t a luxury bikers always have. Sure we have torque and can get out of the way in most cases but sometimes the actions of car drivers are so insane and sudden (INSTANT switching lanes without so much as a glance) there’s nothing that can be done. “Cars have bumpers, bikers have bones”. If I end up as road pizza, there’s not much I can do about it…but if I do see a car needlessly putting a rider’s life in danger — I’m going after them and that’s all there is to it.

  • smokeycretin9 September 26, 2013 (10:26 pm)

    I think in Cali, you are not to excede 15 mph over what traffic is doing, up to 40 mph, after that, a motorcycle cannot split and must get back in line.
    So if traffic is doing 20, you should only be doing 35mph,
    I did it living in Los Angeles. It turned a 45 minute commute by car into a 20 minute commute by motorcycle.
    Get off your damn phone people. Really, Facebook is that important?
    I ride a lot in town and actually saw someone going down Elloitt Ave with their iPad on the steering wheel watching Iron Man while driving.

  • zale carrroll September 26, 2013 (10:34 pm)

    My father died in a motorcycle only accident. It happens without the fault of cars. Sometimes, it does happen because of cars. I used to ride a motorcycle for many years and I gave it up because people would make eye contact with me and then pull out in front of me
    . My point is that you can’t , carte blanche, blame it on other drivers. You also can’t blame the motorcyclist. Wait until SPD rules on the cause. Either way, someone died today and that persons family is feeling like sh-t right now.

  • trickycoolj September 26, 2013 (10:44 pm)

    Anyone know if 500cc scooters fall under motorcycle endorsements or not? My dad rides one of the little ones a lot but out in rural pierce county. He’s in his 50s and has zero common sense. Got bucked off a not well trained horse last weekend because he thinks he’s Cesar Mellan of horses. This incident scares me to think what damage he could do on his made in China DIY scooter.

  • Olly September 26, 2013 (11:12 pm)

    @trickycoolj – I imagine it would – http://www.msf-usa.org

  • Olly September 26, 2013 (11:13 pm)

    @zale – I’m truly sorry for your loss.

  • Amy September 27, 2013 (9:44 am)

    I was tailgated on I-5 by two motorcycles when I was doing 60 in a middle lane the other day…then they scooted around and in front of me as soon as they could. Then they got off and went to West Seattle via the bridge. But if I’d hit my brakes or they ran into me and died that would have been my fault, right?

  • SarahScoot September 27, 2013 (10:02 am)

    This is very unfortunate, and my thoughts are with this man’s family.
    Barring additional information on either crash, I would not necessarily blame construction for the incidents, but “road conditions” could certainly be a factor. By that I mean the weather has turned recently from dry to rainy, and whenever that happens, roads are much more dangerous for cyclists of all kinds. Oil that has seeped into the pavement over months of dry weather is made slick by rain, resulting in treacherous conditions. It’s a really scary feeling for your front wheel to suddenly slip out from under you. It has happened to me a couple times, but I was going slowly enough that I was able to recover.
    Regarding motorcycle vs. scooter, power, and endorsements: Every scooter is a motorcycle, but not every motorcycle is a scooter. The scooter vs. motorcycle designation actually comes down to the location of the engine, and thus how the rider sits on the vehicle. A rider straddles a motorcycle, but is seated with feet on the floorboards of a scooter. Engine size has nothing to do with whether a vehicle is a scooter, and yes, there are some powerful scooters out there. Mine is a 150cc. In Washington state, anything over 50cc does require a motorcycle endorsement. That said, 50cc is enough to travel on pretty much any road in Seattle; it will easily get up to 35 mph with an average-weight rider. So yes, there are many people out there riding in heavy traffic who do not necessarily have to be specially licensed to ride. My 150cc scooter can get up to 70 mph, theoretically–I’ve never taken it that high, and I avoid freeways/highways because I’m just freaked out by being surrounded by giant vehicles traveling at such high speeds. I did take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation course, which is two full days and culminates in practical and written tests that must be passed in order to be automatically granted a motorcycle endorsement.

    • WSB September 27, 2013 (10:46 am)

      Thanks for the motorcycle/scooter explanation, Sarah. My first motor vehicle, at age 17, was a 50cc Yamaha Chappy in the late ’70s, which was referred to as a motorcycle despite its relative tiny-ness, so I guess there was some method to the terminology … TR

  • Ian September 27, 2013 (10:18 am)

    @Amy – They went around you as soon as they could? Sound like real jerks to me… using a passing lane to pass as soon as they can… shameful. If they seem closer to you then a car would have been it could have been because they wanted you to see them. I have done it for that exact reason. I would rather be seen and not hit (and get out or around you asap) than be unseen and get hit.

  • Olly September 27, 2013 (10:55 am)

    The MSF course is a must. It teaches you the basics – after that it’s up to you riding cautiously and accruing experience. They won’t pass you unless you can perform various maneuvers both slow and fast (some of them are very tricky). There is always someone in the class who fails and that’s not a bad thing. The MSF (motorcycle safety foundation) took over testing from the DOL due to the number of rising motorcycle accidents (the DOL test was a joke). The MSF is slowly becoming a nationwide requirement. I highly recommend it. They also have intermediate and expert courses for seasoned riders – never hurts to improve on your skills.

  • Wendell September 27, 2013 (11:01 am)

    Amy. Keep right except to pass also applies to the center lane.

  • sb2780 September 27, 2013 (11:23 am)

    Most of the comments posted here are shameful. Someone died. The End.It’s not a car vs. motorcycle game of speculation and blame. My prayers go out to the victim and his family. My friend was driving on 99 behind the victim and saw him die in front of her eyes. She said people didn’t even bother to stop, and there was only one good Samaritan waving traffic around the body. People are gross.

  • Wendell September 27, 2013 (11:31 am)

    To sb2780. Thank you.

  • Olly September 27, 2013 (11:35 am)

    @sb2780 – I tend to put all of my siding with motorcyclists, but when I first checked the blog I saw the “Child hit by car by Lafayette Elementary” story with a picture of a child’s bicycle laying in the street. Shameful/disagreeable comments or not – the kind of people capable of hitting a child and driving off is truly disgusting.

    • WSB September 27, 2013 (12:24 pm)

      (comment posted here that I meant for another story and am moving there – again, the car/bicycle incident Olly mentions was NOT a hit-run. But please do stop the speculation and generalization on this one too – which also got less oversight yesterday – sorry – TR)

  • Dunno September 27, 2013 (12:40 pm)

    Not saying this motorcycle was speeding or weaving through traffic, but I use the viaduct often. It’s been way too many times to count the number of motorcycles weaving in and out, down the middle, and down the sides while cars are stopped or slowed. The other day, a motorcycle passed my wife and I at upwards of 100mph on the viaduct. Scared the you know what out of us as he weaved right in front of us.

    Very sorry to hear of these two fatatilies, but maybe some on cycles will start to slow down?

  • Olly September 27, 2013 (12:58 pm)

    ↑ I’m not sure how much/if any of that was pointed at me (oh, maybe you were just speaking about the prior story – I didn’t comment on that one). Regardless, I’m happy it wasn’t a hit and run. That truly made my stomach turn when I read it.

  • SarahScoot September 27, 2013 (1:40 pm)

    Interesting, Olly–I didn’t realize MSF took over for DOL testing. I took the MSF course in early ’08 and was actually told by a couple riders not to do it because it is “expensive and the DOL test is easier.” Scary. I appreciated by skills being tested. If I remember correctly, there were two members of my course who didn’t pass. They weren’t what you’d call “bad” riders at all, but they needed more work. They were bummed they didn’t pass, but seemed to appreciate the reasons.

  • Olly September 27, 2013 (1:56 pm)

    I thought it was a bummer at first too. I wanted to get it over with and hit the road! But I’m glad I took it. I know I learned a lot and I actually had fun in the process. It costs $250 for out of state riders and $125 for residents. Not a bad price considering it’s 2-3 days of going over workbooks and riding, and then the tests. In all fairness – riding is way more expensive than just purchasing a bike so people may as well get used to it. ;-)

  • Lisa researching motorcycle accidents September 27, 2013 (4:20 pm)

    Definitely won’t be riding my bike in that area anytime soon!

Sorry, comment time is over.