NEAR MONROE, Wash. - Eight people, including five children, were injured in a five-car collision Monday night in which one driver may have been high on marijuana and a pipe was found in her SUV.
Troopers said the driver of a Dodge Durango didn’t stop when cars ahead of it were waiting to make a left turn on Highway 2, east of Monroe. The Dodge clipped a van ahead of it and veered into a head-on crash with an oncoming van filled with children.
The van flipped upside down on the side of Highway 2 after the impact. The driver had to be extricated and four children-- including a 5-year-old-- were among those critically hurt.
According toMike Halk, the van was driven by his wife, Angella Halk. Inside were the couple's four children and their daughter's 10-year-old neighbor. They were on their way to the YMCA to go swimming.
Mike Halk told KIRO 7 his wife has a broken leg and arm, and his 13-year-old son will have surgery later Tuesday for internal injuries. Both are expected to be OK and are alert and talking at Harborview Medical Center.
His daughter's 10-year-old friend has a crushed skull and is still in intensive care at Harborview.
"Somebody should have died in that. I mean any one of those vehicles," Mike Halk said after KIRO 7 showed him video of the scene for the first time.
The Washington State Patrol told KIRO 7 that the driver of the Durango, 26-year-old Heather Lee of Marysville, had a marijuana pipe in the vehicle. She also had two young children, ages 1 and 5, in the vehicle with her.
Lee was initially transported to an area hospital. She has since been booked into the Snohomish County Jail on multiple counts of vehicular assault.
According to a Snohomish County police document, Lee told a trooper she had smoked pot earlier that day. A sample of Lee's blood was later taken at a hospital.
A mother and her teenage son were flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after the crash. They are in stable condition.
The rest of the injured were taken to hospitals in Snohomish County.
Before it was revealed that the driver who caused the crash may have been under the influence, one of the drivers involved in the crash said the stretch of road is dangerous.
Valerie Ballard was among those caught helplessly in the middle of the explosive chain reaction crash that she says left several injured children crying out for help.
“It was so terrible,” Ballard said. “I feel so fortunate that God spared me."
Ballard was quick to blame the highway for the crash, calling it “unforgiving.” She said she’s lived along the highway for much of her life, and for decades, she’s been calling for the two-lane road to be expanded to four lanes, and divided by a barrier.
"I'm 72, and the traffic is still going crazy on this highway,” she said. "It needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now!"
Halk says he's still stunned that no one lost their lives.
"I think God put his hand down on this crash and saved a lot of people," he said.
Trooper Keith Leary called the conditions perfect and says the crash should not be blamed on the road.