‘A ticking time bomb:’ family of crash victim suing state DOT over ‘dangerous’ SR 509 intersection

TACOMA, Wash. — The state could be on the hook for a fatal accident that claimed six lives at a notorious South Sound intersection.

Now a Tacoma law firm has filed the first lawsuit in that deadly crash.

South Sound drivers are almost certainly familiar with State Route 509 where it intersects with Alexander Avenue East in the so-called Tacoma Tide flats.

Last July, six people were killed when two vehicles collided.

A fix is coming as the state’s project to extend State Route 167 has finally begun, after years of delay.

But it comes too late for the six young people who died here in that horrific accident last July.

It may be one of the most heavily used and least loved intersections in the South Sound.

“I come through here all the time, it is so dangerous,” said Vicki Fritsch. “It really is.”

State Route 509 and Alexander Avenue East is very familiar to Fritsch.

“This light,” said Fritsch, pointing to the traffic light. “That light. People like to go through this light here. And when this light is green, and they’ll just hit you. Yeah. It’s very dangerous.”

That is what happened here last July.

Seven people from Arizona, ranging in age from 19-to-25, were headed to an Amway Convention in Tacoma. But they never made it.

They collided with a BMW, the force so great, their rented KIA Forte was knocked off the road.

Five people died instantly; a sixth person died soon afterwards at a local hospital.

“The state and those who are in charge of this intersection know that SR 509 has cars traveling at highway speeds,” said lawyer Kevin Hastings.

His firm just filed suit on behalf of the family of 19-year-old Cerra Corner. Claiming the state Department of Transportation knew how lethal those highway speeds intersecting could be intersecting with a surface street.

“And then when you put an intersection directly in the middle of that,” said Hastings, “where there’s limited sight distance, it creates a time bomb for just a horrible tragedy to happen just like this.”

Vicki Fritsch was told about the work being done on the highway.

“That’s wonderful,” she exclaimed. “Wonderful. Let’s hope that goes. Let’s hope it works.”

This $376-million-dollar project to extend Highway 167 has finally begun, years after it was proposed. That includes improvements to this intersection.

That’s the good news.

The bad news, the work won’t be completed until 2026. And when it is done, it will become a toll road.

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