UPDATE: Troopers Think Inattention or Drowsy Driving Caused Acci - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

UPDATE: Troopers Think Inattention or Drowsy Driving Caused Accident That Killed 3

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KENNEWICK, WA. -- We're getting new information about a fatal car accident that killed three people Tuesday night on Interstate 82. 

54-year-old Artemio Vasquez-Perez was driving a pickup east bound on Interstate 82 when he lost control, over corrected, ended up in the median where the truck flipped over and came to a rest in the West bound lanes of Interstate 82. There the truck was t-boned at 70 miles per hour. 

The cars are now gone, what is left is paint and thousands of pieces, both big and small. Everything you might find in a car thrown all over the median. Pieces of three lives. 

"I've been a trooper in the Washington State Patrol for about 17-years and I don't believe I've ever done a triple fatality," Sgt. Brian Mihelich said. 

Troopers don't believe alcohol or any drugs were involved in the accident. They think it was something much simpler that made Vasquez-Perez over-correct, flipping the truck before another driver slammed into it, killing 3 of the 5 occupants. 

"We believe it was fatigue and or inattention," Sgt. Mihelich told us. "A semi-truck driver was traveling East bound, witnessed the entire collision, and the vehicle just basically drifted off to the right, over corrected and then rolled in the median and came to rest in the West bound lane."

Now people are worried about the families' two dogs. We caught video of their chihuahua after the accident running around frantically. While I was at the scene, Jennifer Valencia, pulled over to help.    

"I felt really bad for the people who lost their lives and they also lost their little family members and they need to be found so they can be returned to the family," Valencia said. 

Jennifer said it was difficult watching the images on the news last night, thinking about what happened to the family. 

"It made me sick to my stomach," Valencia said. 

Sergeant Mihelich says even for state troopers, this accident was tough to work on. 

"It was a tragedy," Mihelich said. "It was one of the worst wrecks I've seen."

People are still out here looking for the two dogs that were in the car at the time of the accident. They hope to return them to the family if they are found.

If you see the dogs at all, please call the Washington State Patrol.



BENTON COUNTY, Wash. - The Washington State Patrol released more details about a fatal crash along Interstate 82 in Benton County Tuesday night.

Troopers say just after 7 p.m. 54-year-old Artemio Vasquez-Perez of Pshastin was driving a pickup truck east along I-82 when he lost control. The truck rolled across the median and came to a stop in the westbound lanes. 

According to troopers, 39-year-old Lucy Heinkel was driving in an SUV with her 6-month-old daughter inside the car. She crashed into Vasquez-Perez's truck in the westbound lane.

Vasquez-Perez was pronounced dead at the scene. Two passengers inside his truck, 50-year-old Celia Vasquez of Peshastin and 71-year-old Adela Trujillo of Manson were also pronounced dead at the scene. Two others, 44-year-old Pablo Rodriguez of Manson and a 14-year-old were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

Heinkel and her daughter were also taken to local a hospital for treatment.

Troopers are still investigating the cause of the crash.



BENTON COUNTY, Wash. - 3 people have died in a crash on Interstate 82 in Benton County.

The crash happened around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday in the westbound lanes near milepost 107, about 1 mile west of the Clearwater exit.

The crash involves multiple cars.

One car ended up on its roof.

MedStar crews were also called to the scene to transport patients.

Some traffic in the westbound lanes of Interstate 82 is getting by the scene in one lane, others are being detoured through the Tri-Cities via Badger Road, SR 395 and I-182.