A pedestrian overpass bridge in Clarksville, Indiana, collapsed after a recycling truck hit it. One person died in the collapse, which happened around 9:00 a.m. on January 11 at the pedestrian bridge on Brown Station Way near McKinley Avenue. Now, city officials must determine how to proceed with bridge reconstruction while addressing the fact that this fatal bridge collapse is not the first incident involving this overpass.
Recycling Truck Driver Killed in Indiana Overpass Collapse
The Red Ball Recycling truck driver, 45-year-old Garrett Lee Suddeth, died in the collapse. Investigators are reconstructing the accident to determine what happened and initially were unwilling to say whether the truck’s boom was up or down at the time of the crash. They did note, however, that the bridge was tangled with the back of the recycling truck.
Witnesses, however, say they tried to warn the truck driver about the pedestrian bridge as he approached it. They said they sped up to attempt to get him to stop because he had his lift up, but before they could stop him, the lift caught the bridge and pulled it down onto the truck.
Officials declared Suddeth dead at the scene.
The road was closed for almost four hours while officials investigated the accident and cleared up the wreckage.
The same pedestrian overpass bridge was hit in the summer, and a piece of the bridge sustained damage, but it was rebuilt and deemed safe to continue using. Neighbors say that although the steel has been bent before, the overpass has never collapsed in an accident.
Witnesses Describe Aftermath of Clarksville Pedestrian Bridge Collapse
Ronnie Coleman lives near the scene of the crash and says he knew as soon as he heard the collision that something terrible had happened.
“I thought it was a big explosion behind my house,” Coleman told NBC News. “I live a block away, that’s how loud it was.”
“Like a big thunder,” said Tony Deaver. “It was loud.”
Rusty Neff, who also lives near the overpass, said his wife felt the entire house shake when the collision occurred. Residents went outside to see the scene and were shocked by what they saw, with some saying they knew right away what the situation was tragic.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” Coleman said. “I said ‘he can’t be living because his cab is almost to the asphalt’.”
“I’m speechless,” said Deaver. “It’s terrible.”
Victim of Brown Station Way Bridge Collapse Remembered as a Great Dad
Speaking with ABC News, Suddeth’s daughter, Krista Sampson, remembered him as a great dad.
“He was a hard-working man who would give you the shirt off his back. A great dad and even better papaw. He loved his family and friends.”
City Weighing its Options Regarding Clarksville Bridge Reconstruction
This is the second time in a year the pedestrian overpass in Clarksville has been shut down, and this time reconstruction could take up to 18 months. City officials must decide how to proceed because the walkway helps residents navigate a potentially dangerous stretch of road that has few sidewalks and crossing signals, and requires pedestrians crossing the road to cross five traffic lanes. Students of Clarksville Middle School and Clarksville High School also use the pedestrian bridge going to and from school.
Officials Continue Investigating Structural Collapse
Officials are investigating the Clarksville pedestrian bridge collapse, and a final report on what caused the recycling truck to strike the overpass and cause it to collapse likely won’t be available for up to two months from the time of the accident.
Bridge Collapse Attorneys
Bridge collapses and pedestrian overpass collapses can happen for a variety of reasons, including issues with the bridge design, improper construction materials, lack of maintenance, or human error. Depending on the circumstances of the bridge collapse, it may be possible to file a lawsuit against the people responsible for designing, building or maintaining the bridge.
Attorneys at Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman are experienced at investigating bridge collapse claims and holding the parties responsible for a bridge failure accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a bridge collapse or bridge failure, contact us for a no-obligation consultation. Our attorneys are available to answer your questions and advise you of your rights.