1:45 p.m. on March 24, 2005

When I was driving home from work yesterday, I stopped at the DMV to renew my tabs only to find out I am a week late and now have to get my smog test again, even though I just did it one year and one week ago. Before I left that god-forsaken place, I overheard one of the ladies saying that the southbound lanes of highway 99 were closed. I did not hear why and I was traveling northbound anyway.

As I drove further down towards home, I began to see the helicopters circling around; one, two and then a third news copter was up ahead. Traffic was moving snail-like. I could have turned down another street and taken a quicker route, but I was curious. I had an appointment to get my hair cut and was early, so I continued toward the area of interest.

As I got closer, I could see the flashing lights of cop cars, maybe a dozen. I could see there was obviously an accident, so I patiently made my way closer. I knew enough time had passed that if there were injured persons, they would have already been rushed off for treatment, but I was still hoping to get some idea about what had happened. I am a rubber-necker, but dont like looking like a rubber-necker, so whenever I drive by an accident site, I try to look like I am not looking. There was no way I could pretend not to look this time, because the scene was so horrifying. My mouth was agape in shock; I could not even cover it with my hand. I yelled out loud to myself: I hope this is a movie set. I forgot my sunroof was open and a police officer gave me a look that said: I know, right?

There was wreckage strewn a half block long and 4 lanes wide. There were 3 vehicles that were completely totaled beyond recognition; they looked more like scrap heaps than real cars. 3 more cars were also busted up pretty bad. Broken glass and twisted metal and items from inside the cars cluttered the streets in a sick mess. I got an instant headache from looking at the unbelievable scene trying to imagine what could have caused such a thing. The injuries sustained must be horrific.

Here is a photo of some of the cars involved, but it only partially conveys the dreadfulness of the accident.

I watched the news later and got the full story:

Domestic dispute ends in 6-vehicle pile-up on Aurora

Alamran Sami was spending a typical afternoon behind the desk at his used-car lot on Aurora Avenue yesterday when he saw something out his window like "a Hollywood movie" a horrific car accident that sent five people to the hospital and one man to jail.
Sami's brother and another employee raced to the aid of one of the stricken drivers who police said was in very serious condition at Harborview Medical Center last night.
The six-vehicle pileup in the 19500 block of Aurora Avenue North snarled traffic for hours and began as a domestic dispute, said King County sheriff's spokesman John Urquhart.
A man driving a pickup repeatedly bumped and hit a late-model pickup driven by his ex-girlfriend as the two traveled northbound on Aurora Avenue, he said.
Police dispatchers began receiving calls about the pair as they sped past North 185th Street.
At one point, the man displayed an air rifle, he said.
Just before the intersection of North 195th Street, the man's truck rear-ended his ex-girlfriend's, which hit a third vehicle driven by another woman, forcing it into oncoming traffic.
The ex-girlfriend's truck flipped over and hit a car. Yet another driver panicked and careened into a parked car.
Sami said he saw it all from his office at Sam's Auto.
"It was [over] in a matter of seconds," he said.
His brother and an employee ran to the woman whose car landed in oncoming traffic, and doused engine flames with a small fire extinguisher. They also gave her water and encouraging words, though she was badly injured.
"We gave her water and made her calm down, saying, 'You'll be fine. It'll be fine,' " Sami said. "I was so worried about the fire. We couldn't open the door."
Police and fire personnel arrived within five minutes and got her out. That woman and the ex-girlfriend were in "very serious condition," Urquhart said. The other drivers also were sent to the hospital, but their conditions were unknown.
Rush-hour traffic was stalled for hours as crime-scene investigators tried to piece together what happened.
The driver who caused the accident, whom Urquhart did not identify, was booked into King County Jail. Prosecutors have 72 hours to charge or release him.


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