Centralia: Teenager dies crossing I-5, wrecks follow

Saturday, January 7, 2017 at 4:12 pm
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A helicopter lands on Interstate 5 to pick up a victim from one of the several crashes in the aftermath of the pedestrian death. / Courtesy photo by Sarah Gee

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.

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Lukah Kimberly Herren

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.
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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.”

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The northbound lanes near milepost 80 are closed with a multiple vehicle wreck. / Courtesy photo by Riverside Fire Authority

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11 Responses to “Centralia: Teenager dies crossing I-5, wrecks follow”

  1. Soaper says:

    Nevermind, I re-read it and understand what happened now. Very sad!

  2. Soaper says:

    Very sad situation.

    I am a little confused though…were the other wrecks/collisions due to traffic being altered due to the girl crossing the freeway or were they unrelated?

  3. Sierra says:

    She was my best friend its sad to see she passed when u wake up and then u get told sis your best friends dead I loved u lukah R.I.P Lukah prayers for the family 2

  4. Outofcentralia says:

    Why was she crossing lanes on a freeway?? I mean it’s sad to hear this but it might have been safe to say it could have been prevented if she wasn’t playing frogger on I-5…

  5. BobbyinLC says:

    At 16 we did not always think things through. Very sad for her family.

  6. BleeBloo says:

    I’m trying to wrap my head around the thought processes of anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to walk on the freeway.

  7. Bo Rupert says:

    Thoughts and prayers to the family. RIP

  8. D&L says:

    To the driver of the SUV Sandra, sorry you had to go through that, glad you are ok.

  9. LCCitizen says:

    RIP young Lukah Herren.

  10. AuntyBea says:

    God bless the family of this poor young lady. So tragic.

  11. BobbyinLC says:

    So sad a young girl lost her life. Then an impaired driver in a semi can’t see the stopped traffic? Really? This guy needs to be nailed to the wall. He could have killed multiple people. As it is a person has lost their valued friend and companion a service dog.

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