Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Bridge that collapsed in Washington State was structurally unsound

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The bridge over the Skagit River in Washington State that collapsed, sending cars into the freezing water was previously recognized by state authorities as being "functionally obsolete" as a result of certain structural changes that required attention. Three passengers whose cars fell into the water were rescued.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to officials, the structure collapse was caused by a truck hitting the overhead bar. The over-sized truck apparently collided with the span of structure, authorities have said.

"For reasons unknown at this point in time the semi struck the overhead of the bridge causing the collapse,' State Patrol Chief John Batiste said at an overnight news conference. The truck was able to make it off the bridge and the truck's driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, he added.

Three passengers were pulled alive from their vehicles after they plunged tens of feet into the water below yesterday evening. Rescuers said that no one died in the accident and all victims have been accounted for.

The Interstate 5 runs throughout the state of Washington, crossing the Skagit River at a number of different points. The bridge where the collapse happened was between Burlington and Mount Vernon.

Both directions of the highway have been closed in the area as both the north and southbound lanes of the bridge fell into the water.

Eyewitness reports said that there was a man stuck inside his truck that fell in the water during the collapse.

Volunteer firefighter Jeremiah Thomas said he was driving in the area when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. "The bridge just went down, it crashed through the water," he said. "It was really surreal."

At least two vehicles - a car and the pickup with a trailer attached - fell into the river, officials said.

Dan Sligh and his wife were in their pickup truck on Interstate 5 heading to a camping trip when a bridge before them disappeared in a "big puff of dust," he said.

"I hit the brakes and we went off," Sligh said from hospital, adding he "saw the water approaching ... you hold on as tight as you can."

The three victims were taken to Skagit Valley Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The bridge, built in 1955, was inspected twice last year and repairs were made, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said. "It's an older bridge that needs a lot of work just like a good number of bridges around the state," she said.

Officials are now working on plans for either a temporary or permanent replacement, she said.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)