By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – A 16-year-old girl crossing Interstate 5 on foot to meet friends was killed when she was struck by a passenger vehicle last night in Centralia, according to the Washington State Patrol.
It happened in the southbound lanes south of Mellen Street near the overpass for the new interchange, according to responders.
The state patrol identifies her as Lukah K. Herren, of Toledo.
Firefighters, police and medics responding to the approximately 6:48 p.m. call were soon joined by other responders for a minor wreck just across the freeway and then a serious multi-vehicle collision farther south in the backup.
Interstate 5 was shut down in both directions for a period of time.
Trooper Will Finn said Herren died at the scene.
Finn said that he spoke to a sergeant who said the girl tried to cross Interstate 5 to meet some people to get a ride somewhere.
“She was in contact with some friends on the other side of the freeway,” Finn said. “The friends, I don’t know how many there were, were making their way to her side, in a car.”
A brief summary of the incident from the state patrol stated a 2006 Saturn Vue sport utility vehicle was traveling southbound and struck the pedestrian who was in lane two.
The driver of the Saturn, 19-year-old Sandra F. Grubbs of Longview, was reportedly unhurt, but her vehicle was totaled, according to the state patrol. Finn said he didn’t expect any charges to be filed.
He called it an unfortunate incident.
Chehalis Fire Department Capt. Rob Gebhart said a passenger car and a truck collided in the northbound lanes very close to the same area a few minutes after the call for the pedestrian, but resulted in only minor injuries.
Just before 7:30 p.m. farther south in the northbound lanes, a collision involving a semi truck and at least four other vehicles left one of those drivers pinned in his car, according to Riverside Fire Authority.
That driver, in his 30s, was extricated and then airlifted with suspected serious and internal injuries, according to RFA Capt. Scott Weinert. A helicopter landed on the freeway to pick him up and take him to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, according to the state patrol.
Two other victims in other vehicles were treated and transported to Providence Centralia Hospital, according to Weinert.
Trooper Finn said the state patrol had been getting calls of the 2006 Freightliner driving erratically, and it failed to slow for the stopped traffic. Its driver was evaluated by a drug recognition expert, found to be impaired and was arrested, he said.
A service dog in one of the involved cars was killed, Finn said.
The southbound lanes weren’t reopened until just before 9:30 p.m. according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. The northbound lanes were not cleared until just before 3 o’clock this morning, according to WSDOT.
CORRECTION: This news story has been updated to reflect that the state patrol revised its brief summary about what the pedestrian was doing from ” … struck the pedestrian who was standing in lane two” to “… struck the pedestrian who was in lane two.”