Single Car Accident on SR-512 in Puyallup Claims 5 Lives
Puyallup Car Crash 5 dead

Photo courtesy Washington State Patrol

January 14, 2024 – A devastating single-vehicle crash on SR-512 in Puyallup, Washington, claimed the lives of five individuals in the early hours of Sunday morning, January 14th. The collision occurred around 4:30 am on eastbound SR-512 near the 31st Street Southwest overpass when a silver 2017 Ford Flex SUV failed to negotiate a curve and ran off the roadway. The SUV subsequently collided with a concrete support pillar at the base of the overpass before catching fire.

All five occupants were pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Washington State Patrol (WSP). The deceased include the 29-year-old female driver from Sumner, two 11-year-old girls from Tacoma who were passengers, as well as two other minors. One person was ejected from the vehicle on impact, trapping the remaining four inside the engulfed SUV.

Witnesses reported seeing the vehicle traveling at high speeds and attempting dangerous maneuvers moments before the crash. The road conditions were clear and dry then, and weather is not believed to be a factor. The WSP’s Major Accident Investigation Team was activated to investigate details surrounding the tragedy, requiring an extended closure of all eastbound lanes, which lasted around nine hours.

Further details about what exactly transpired in the moments leading up to the fatal collision remain unclear. The WSP has made a request appealing to the public for any additional witnesses or footage that may aid their ongoing investigation into the horrific crash. As communities grieve the devastating loss, authorities seek answers to piece together the events on that tragic January morning.

Insurance Agent’s Perspective

This heartbreaking accident highlights the devastating and far-reaching impacts a severe auto collision can have while also underscoring the importance of adequate insurance coverage.

In a tragic event like this, with multiple lives lost, the liability coverage carried by the driver is likely woefully insufficient to compensate the grieving families of her passengers fairly. Most auto policies only include minimal death benefit payouts, which do very little to account for the devastation wrought on the families of the victims. However, if the non-related victims have their own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, they would have another layer of protection if the driver’s coverage falls short.

I advise my clients to carry as much UM/UIM and liability coverage as they can afford precisely because of dreadful situations like this. Washington state only mandates $25k per person and $50k per accident liability; it takes very little imagination to realize how quickly multiple parties’ medical bills, funeral expenses, and wrongful death claims could exceed this amount.

There is no good outcome from a horrific tragedy like this crash. However, having the right insurance coverage in place can at least ease some financial stress during an unimaginably painful time for the families of the victims.

My heart goes out to all five and their families, and as an agent, I will be re-examining what more I can do to educate drivers about protecting themselves from the worst possibilities on the road. No one anticipates such events, but adequate insurance coverage becomes critical in those darkest hours.

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