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Updated Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 08:31 PM

Truck driver killed, 4 injured in fiery Sunday-morning crash

By Brian M. Rosenthal
Seattle Times staff reporter

A 68-year-old trucker died and four young adults suffered minor injuries in a fiery freeway crash near Federal Way early Sunday that officials say started when a driver apparently lost control and triggered a chain reaction.

The trucker, driving a double-tanker, was identified by the State Patrol as Joseph E. Bartkowski, of Sumner.

The car driver, a 21-year-old Renton man, was booked into King County Jail on investigation of vehicular homicide.

The crash occurred about 2:30 a.m. on southbound Interstate 5 near South 336th Street, according to the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

It began when the Renton man apparently lost control of his 2001 Nissan Altima and struck a highway barrier, said Julie Judson, a State Patrol spokeswoman. The Altima was then hit by a 1995 Toyota Camry carrying three people in their early 20s, Judson said.

Bartkowski's gasoline-filled truck then slammed into the Camry, swerved off the road, rolled over, blasted through a soundwall, smashed into a nearby home and went up in flames, Judson said.

Bartkowski died at the scene, she said.

The occupants of the Camry were taken to St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, while the injured Renton man was taken to jail.

Nine thousand gallons of aviation gasoline spilled in the crash, according to the state Department of Ecology.

The incident also caused major traffic problems. All lanes of southbound I-5 were closed until nearly 8 a.m., and the road didn't fully open until 10 a.m., according to the DOT. Two lanes also were closed later in the day to remove the truck.

The cleanup was delayed because of pools of fuel that kept catching fire and minor crashes in the northbound lanes when drivers were distracted by the wreckage.

Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or brosenthal@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal.


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