Pickup hits transit bus on Highway 101; three hospitalized

PORT ANGELES — Traffic on U.S. Highway 101 was snarled for four hours near the junction with state Highway 112 late Tuesday as authorities investigated a crash in which a pickup truck carrying a camper shell plowed into a Clallam Transit bus.

None of the 12 bus passengers was seriously injured in the 5:10 p.m. wreck, State Patrol Sgt. Brett Yacklin said.

The bus driver was taken to Olympic Medical Center with head lacerations and back and neck soreness, he said, while the worst injury was sustained by the driver of the pickup.

The truck driver suffered severe leg and ankle injuries after his leg was pinned inside the Ford pickup — which had California plates — and was airlifted from OMC to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, State Patrol spokeswoman Trooper Krista Hedstrom said.

Yacklin said the pickup driver, who was traveling alone, was reportedly unconscious at about 7 p.m.

Clallam County Fire District No. 2 said that three patients were taken to OMC. No names were available Tuesday night.

All lanes were open on Highway 101 at 9:15 p.m.

In a separate crash about an hour after the first, a log truck missed the corner of nearby Edgewood and Dry Creek roads and shifted its load.

Logs spilled onto the southwest corner of the intersection with the truck facing north on Dry Creek Road, and slowed traffic.

A third crash was east of the bus-pickup collision on Highway 101. As traffic backed up from the scene of the collision, one car hit another in the rear.

There were no life-threatening injuries in any of the collisions, Hedstrom said.

First Jeep, then bus

The pickup truck/camper had apparently sideswiped a Jeep Grand Cherokee on Highway 101 within the Port Angeles city limit moments before the collision with the bus, Hedstrom said.

“It started out in Port Angeles,” said Yacklin, who was investigating at the scene.

“This camper that you see here sideswiped a Jeep Cherokee. It kept going, crossing the center line, and hit the bus in lane 2 (left lane).”

The woman driving the Jeep and her passenger were not injured.

“He just smashed right into my car,” the driver told troopers. “I was screaming, ‘I’m getting hit.'”

The bus was traveling eastbound in the left hand lane about a quarter-mile east of the intersection with state Highway 112 when the camper crossed the center line.

Yacklin pointed to an inch-deep gouge in the pavement about six feet south of the center line where he said the head-on wreck likely occurred.

He said metal from wheels of the bus or pickup likely caused the 2-foot-long gouge.

“It’s not a true head-on,” Yacklin said. “It’s an off-set.”

The bus driver had taken evasive action when the camper crossed the center line and avoided a true head-on wreck, Yacklin said.

Next to the transit bus — No. 907 — was a red Geo Metro traveling east in the right lane.

When the pickup crossed the center line, the bus hurtled into the Geo, sending the small car into the ditch before the bus ended up right behind at Milepost 243.

The driver of the Geo was unhurt, Yacklin said.

Yacklin confirmed that crews used “jaws of life” rescue equipment to extract the driver of the pickup truck from the badly-damaged vehicle that had overturned and came to a rest on its passenger side in a driveway on the south side of Highway 101 just west of Milepost 243.

As troopers investigated the wreck, the bus faced eastbound and was tilting to its left. Passenger windows near the front of the bus were cracked but not shattered.

Debris from the wreck littered the scene.

Boxes, furniture, blankets and cushions had spilled from the back of the white and brown-stripped camper into the roadway.

The front end of the transit bus suffered significant damage on its driver’s side.

Another Clallam Transit bus picked up the bus passengers and drove them into Port Angeles.

Fire crews worked to sweep the roadway and clean up engine fluids that spilled from the pickup.

Troopers found no drugs or alcohol in the pickup.

The collision remained under investigation on Tuesday, and Yacklin said that it has not been determined whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

Troopers were assisted at the scene by personnel with the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Clallam County Fire District No. 2, the state Department of Transportation, Elwha Police and several ambulances.

________

Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at rob.ollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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