CRAB-TRUCK CRASH FOLLOWUP: Driver to be cited, says SPD

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(WSB reader photo from Monday afternoon, looking southwestward toward the tipped truck and its spilled load)

New information today about the crab-truck crash that closed the northbound Alaskan Way Viaduct for hours on Monday (WSB coverage here): Seattle Police say the driver is expected to be cited for negligent driving – going too fast and making an “unsafe lane change” toward the south end of the elevated section. Fine: $550, says SDOT, whose Commercial Vehicle Enforcement section is taking the lead on the investigation; so far, we’re told, it appears to have been strictly driver error, not a problem with the truck’s load. What happened to those spilled boxes of crab? Basically, SPD spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb told us, it had to be discarded – either to garbage or compost – once it had fallen onto a roadway, there’s no way to verify it’s safe enough even to donate, let alone sell; the city is “not in the business of subjecting someone to (potentially) contaminated goods.” And, unlike the fish-truck crash that blocked southbound 99 almost exactly one year ago, salvaging the load was not a priority – clearing the road was. “Our efforts were centered on just getting (the truck) off (the roadway),” Whitcomb stressed. This incident was a big test of the plan the city announced last August, four-plus months after the fish-truck crash exposed glaring flaws in coordination between city agencies like SDOT and SPD, among other things.

P.S. Guard-rail repairs will close the right NB lane at Monday’s crash scene for a while tonight, starting around 7:30 pm, per WSDOT.

33 Replies to "CRAB-TRUCK CRASH FOLLOWUP: Driver to be cited, says SPD"

  • Joe April 5, 2016 (4:50 pm)

    Glad they are getting a ticket. Hope the other semi drivers I see driving like tools  take note.

  • highlandpark April 5, 2016 (4:56 pm)

    Isn’t there a solid white line between the NB lanes at that point, making a lane change not only unsafe but also illegal?

    • PSPS April 5, 2016 (5:26 pm)

      A single solid white line doesn’t signify that lane changing is prohibited.

    • LB April 5, 2016 (6:21 pm)

      –Broken white line: cross freely.
      –Solid white line: crossing discouraged, but not prohibited.
      –A double, solid white line: crossing prohibited.

  • martin April 5, 2016 (4:59 pm)

    crab jokes commence!

  • chemist April 5, 2016 (5:04 pm)

    I’m heartbroken to hear about not even attempting to connect the goods to potential users. I was under the impression that donated foods are essentially given a “good Samaritan” pass on potential liabilities, provided someone actually bother to try to rescue it. At least that was my impression after watching “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story” on Amazon (which is highly entertaining and made me pay closer attention to my crisper drawer’s contents).

  • willbehonest April 5, 2016 (5:07 pm)

    The truck drivers in this area are HORRIBLE. Stay out of their way…

  • CherylR April 5, 2016 (5:09 pm)

    $550 doesn’t seem like remotely enough “punishment” for all the emergency & road crew response, not to mention the traffic snarls, viaduct closure, bus re-routes, etc. I get that accidents happen, but if the driver was in fact negligent, I say hit him over the head with a more appropriate penalty. What a mess!

    • AMD April 5, 2016 (5:46 pm)

      I would be shocked if this guy still has a job if it was at all ruled he was driving unsafely.  That will be his real punishment, not the fine.

  • andrewwantcookie April 5, 2016 (5:15 pm)

    Yes, there is a solid white line – and it’s typically very crowded in that area so surprised he even had the opportunity to (illegally) change lanes.

  • Jenava April 5, 2016 (5:17 pm)

    Highland park, yep, there sure is.  I see drivers changing lanes there more and more, though.  I wonder if some don’t realize it’s illegal.

    • PSPS April 5, 2016 (5:27 pm)

      It’s not illegal.  You’re thinking of a double line such as that approaching the I-5 northbound onramp from the SSV.

      • chemist April 5, 2016 (6:03 pm)

        Double white is illegal, but so is not obeying lane change control devices (like official signs).

        Driving on roadways laned for traffic.
        Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic the following rules in addition to all others consistent herewith shall apply:
        (4) Official traffic-control devices may be installed prohibiting the changing of lanes on sections of roadway and drivers of vehicles shall obey the directions of every such device.

  • 935 April 5, 2016 (5:22 pm)

    Yes Sean,  

    All of that neatly, tightly packaged crab is not safe for consumption. Not even the boxes on top – without banding broken… Sheesh this city is RIFE with waste.

    • pupsarebest April 6, 2016 (1:28 pm)

      Isn’t it sickening, and, actually, heartbreaking?

      I figured there would be no way to salvage the load for human consumption, due to lack of refrigeration/etc., but as I suggested in an earlier comment, why couldn’t the Seattle Aquarium and/or Zoo take possession of the “ruined” product, and use it to feed various animals in their care?

  • westSeattleSteve April 5, 2016 (5:30 pm)

    Will the City or WA State go after the trucking companies insurance to try and recover costs? That might have an effect on how the trucking companies operate.

  • Deo April 5, 2016 (5:43 pm)

    I agree with Chemist. It was sad to see the video coverage last night of a bulldozer scooping up both broken and intact boxes of edibles…presumably to dump…..Felt this would have been an opportunity to offer open season on crab to all individuals willing to step up and carry off a box or two or three.  Also thought donations to organizations that could prepare and/or store the items for timely dinners for the hungry would have been a great alternative. 

  • Sunuva April 5, 2016 (5:54 pm)

    Almost every time I drive through here I see cars abruptly change lanes so they don’t get stuck in the merging traffic. It’s dangerous and I’m not surprised when accidents happen here. Before hearing that the driver got charged with Neg 2, I presumed someone probably cut him off. That all said, I’m SO tired of this construction zone. It is obviously dangerous and apparently there’s nothing more that can be done until the tunnel project is complete. It’s even more scary on a motorcycle in the rain! Regardless of politics surrounding the tunnel project, I just can’t wait for it to be done and for this crappy section of road to be removed.

  • seejaypee April 5, 2016 (5:58 pm)

    ” A solid white line between
    lanes of traffic means that you should stay in your lane unless
    a special situation requires you to change lanes.”

  • RuleChecker April 5, 2016 (6:05 pm)

    “A solid white line between
    lanes of traffic means that you should stay in your lane unless
    a special situation requires you to change lanes.” Per Washington State DOL’s “Washington Driver Guide.”

    • BlairJ April 6, 2016 (11:19 am)

      Good advice to not change lanes over a single solid white line unless encountering a special situation, but is the DOL’s Driver Guide is necessarily law?

  • Deb April 5, 2016 (6:10 pm)

    Does anyone know if the ramp to northbound SR 99 from eastbound West Seattle Bridge ever closed during this event? I saw the traffic alerts on the overhead WS Bridge signs, but wondered if the “loop” remained open or was closed. 

  • sam-c April 5, 2016 (7:14 pm)

    The crash scenario sounds almost exactly as i had predicted the other day. Too fast and unsafe lane change.  I’m sad the tasty crab couldn’t be salvaged.

    • Matt S. April 5, 2016 (8:20 pm)

      I read your original comment at the time, and you most certainly called it.

  • LAintheJunction April 5, 2016 (7:21 pm)

    I for one would have been happy to volunteer to eat the crab, straight off the ground if necessary. Do you know how much king crab retails for? $30-$45 per pound. So each 30lb box would retail for over $1000. A little road dirt wouldn’t even slow me down, it’s protected in the shell anyway. What a waste.

  • rob April 5, 2016 (7:33 pm)

     could you imagine if this was the duck. they would never make it but the real?  schould be where was he going

  • teacher/mom April 5, 2016 (8:03 pm)

    Deo, I had a similar thought. If every car slowly passing by took a box or two to help out, the mess would have been cleaned up pretty quickly, don’t you think? But then maybe there would have been ten times as much traffic getting in line…

  • Westside45 April 5, 2016 (9:55 pm)

    Let’s say the city said  to go ahead and scoop up a box or two and eat the crab.If someone then got sick afterward you can just imagine the repercussions (and the eager lawyers).

  • Deo April 6, 2016 (8:41 am)

    Wouldn’t be a problem if it was posted as “eat at your own risk”. News coverage said it was frozen crab…..Agree with Teacher/Mom…..scene could have been cleared in no time by allowing pedestrian traffic as well as “early responders” to grab a box.

  • AMD April 6, 2016 (9:41 am)

    It’s a shame that the stuff that was clearly edible but couldn’t be served due to food handling regulations couldn’t at least be used for animal feed or something.  : (

  • AJP April 6, 2016 (9:03 pm)

    Wow, $550 citation for dumping some crab. People don’t usually get that much if they hit a pedestrian or a cyclist, unless they’re under the influence. 

  • PJ April 9, 2016 (8:22 am)

    Agree it’s a shame some potentially edible food was wasted, but it should be up to the owner of the goods to decide what happens to it, not SDOT/WashDOT. 

    I don’t know if valuable loads like this can be insured, but someone is out 10’s of 1,000’s of dollars.

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