A Washington State Patrol trooper died after he was hit by a truck in Conway along the detour route around the I-5 bridge collapse Friday evening.
WSP said Trooper Sean O'Connell was on duty on his motorcycle when he was struck by a box truck at a usually quiet section of Fir Island Road at Greenfield Road around 5:45 p.m. The area is a few miles south of the Skagit Bridge collapse; residents say the road was more congested as usual.
Trooper O'Connell was transported to Skagit Valley Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
About a dozen troopers had gathered outside of Skagit Valley Hospital when Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste announced O'Connell had passed away.
"The community lost a great guy. The state lost a great friend, a great trooper. He was an absolutely amazing guy," said Trooper Keith Leary. "He was the stellar trooper. He was Trooper of the Year. You don't get to be Trooper of the Year unless you're the best. The guy was incredible."
O'Connell, 38, was a 16-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol. He is survived by his wife, his 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.
WSP said the driver who hit the trooper was from Mount Vernon and was cooperating with their investigation.
For many residents, the accident is what they feared would happened when the bridge collapsed, dumping traffic onto these rural roads. Many wonder if that played a part in the tragedy.
The intersection where the collision happened was shut down as of 10pm Friday. Drivers were being asked to avoid Fir Island Road as the investigation takes place.
KING 5's Heather Graf and Mitch Pittman contributed to this report.