Smoke from a wildland fire along Highway 395 north of Pasco is being blamed for causing a serious collision Friday that blocked the highway for a time.
William C. Schimel, 63, of Spokane, was driving south when he slowed his red 2011 Toyota Tacoma pickup because of smoke drifting across the road, said the Washington State Patrol.
His truck was hit from behind by a semi-truck driven by Joseph E. Johnston, 52, of Moses Lake, who couldn’t slow in time to avoid him, said Trooper Grant Smith.
The collision happened about 12 miles north of Pasco at 11:37 a.m.
Schimel, whose truck rolled over from the impact, was taken by the medical helicopter, Medstar, to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, with life-threatening injuries. He was not wearing a seat belt, said Smith.
Johnston, who was wearing a seat belt, was not hurt. Pasco emergency crews helped with the accident.
A second non-injury accident happened about the same time along the same area of the highway, said Smith.