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Inspection Crew Trapped in Fatal DC Bridge Crash

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

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Members of an inspection crew working from a boom bucket on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, in metropolitan Washington, D.C., were trapped for a time under the bridge deck on June 20 when a tractor-trailer lost control and slammed into a nearby crash-attenuator truck. 

The driver of the tractor-trailer, identified Monday afternoon by WTOP as 60-year-old Rodell Jones, of New Jersey, was killed in the incident. Those in the lift basket were injured, as was the boom operator, when the crash-attentuator was pushed into the boom vehicle.

What Happened

According to NBC4 Washington, a bridge maintenance crew was examining the Wilson Bridge with a boom truck at the time of the incident, with three workers in the work bucket and one other inside the truck. A warning truck was parked behind the boom vehicle to protect the crew from the kind of crash that wound up occurring.

Upon impact, the empty tractor-trailer hit the warning truck, which was pushed into the other vehicle. Both the tractor-trailer and the boom truck caught fire; a second fire started when another employee’s truck parked nearby also went up in flames.

The three men in the bucket were able to safely rope their way down to police boats below.

“Those workers, as well as the one operating the boom from the truck, were taken by ambulance to the hospital,” the Maryland State Police said in a press release. “The preliminary information at the scene indicates all are expected to survive.”

"The unusual part of this was because we had three workers in a boom, aerial boom over a bridge working over the Potomac River," said Greg Shipley of Maryland State Police. "It could have been a lot worse; we're glad it wasn't."

Currently, the Maryland State Police Crash Team is continuing the investigation. All lanes of the Wilson Bridge reopened almost 12 hours after the crash.

Woodrow Wilson Bridge

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge is a 12-lane bridge that includes four side-by-side, double leaf bascule spans, each with 269-foot center-to-center spacing and an overall bridge width of 249 feet. The structure connects Alexandria, Virginia, with Oxon Hill, Maryland, crossing over part of the District of Columbia as it spans the Potomac River. The bridge carries Interstates 95 and 495 as part of the heavily traveled Capital Beltway.

The 7.5-mile-long bridge is maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation and Maryland State Highway Administration; the original span, opened in 1961, was replaced over a 13-year span in a massive, $2.36 billion project that involved 26 prime contractors and ended up coming in about $80 million below projected budget.

Reached Monday afternoon, a representative of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation could not immediately confirm whether the state's Occupational Safety and Health agency is investigating.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Bridges; Fatalities; Health and safety; Inspection

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