TUKWILA, Wash -- One person was killed Friday morning when a loose tire smashed into the van they were riding in on Interstate 5.
Trooper Jeff Merrill said the tire came off of a northbound semi, bounced over the median and struck the windshield of a southbound van.
A 31-year-old Bothell man riding in the passenger seat of the van was killed instantly. The driver was very shaken but was not seriously injured.
Merrill said two wheels actually got loose, each weighing several hundred pounds. "There were two tires with some metal axel pieces attached to it."
"Given the size and the velocity and the weight of that object, it has the ability to do tremendous damage, as it did here today," he said.
The inside lanes of both northbound and southbound I-5 were closed near the Duwamish Curve just south of Seattle.
Merrill said troopers stopped the semi one exit north of the accident scene, and the driver was cooperating with investigators. He was not injured.
Aerial video from KOMO-TV's AIR 4 showed a large tire missing from an empty trailer being towed by the semi truck.
The truck is used to haul large garbage containers, but it was just pulling the trailer at the time of the accident.
Merrill said it is very rare for a set of wheels to come off a large truck. "It doesn't happen a lot, but when it does it's very damaging." Investigators were trying to determine what caused the wheels to come loose.