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Police: Driver dies after pulling down bridge

MIKE HOUSEHOLDER Associated Press

September 26, 2014

DETROIT (AP) — The driver of a waste-hauling truck died Friday morning after hitting a pedestrian bridge over a Detroit freeway, pulling it down onto the roadway below and snarl rush-hour traffic, officials said.

Reports of a bridge collapse came into police about 6 a.m. They determined a boom on a waste-hauling truck was extended too high to go under the bridge, Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said at the scene.

"When the boom struck the bridge, it actually pulled the bridge down with it," Shaw said.

State transportation officials said the bridge was in "fair to good" condition, meaning that it was safe for use before being hit by the truck. No one was on the bridge when it fell, Shaw said, and the timing of the crash prevented it from being much worse.

"It's just the beginning of rush hour, so nobody else was struck," Shaw said. "If this would have happened maybe an hour later it would have been a lot worse."

Shaw said the driver was taken to a hospital and died, but he didn't have details about what caused the driver's death. The driver's identity has not been released.

Barnika Cage, who lives a block from the bridge, told The Detroit News she heard a "boom" sound, went down the street and saw that the bridge had fallen. She said she saw a man get out of the truck, stumble, and then fall face first on the grass along the freeway.

"There was blood all over his face," Cage said. "I was just praying he was OK."

Traffic was being forced off the freeway in both directions, officials said. The Michigan Department of Transportation and state police said they weren't sure how long the roadway would be closed.

At freeway speeds, "momentum is enough to take down the bridge" when hit by a truck, Shaw said.

MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said the bridge would be removed from the freeway after police complete their on-scene investigation. She said she didn't immediately know the age of the bridge, but said it wasn't replaced when the freeway was rebuilt in 2009.

"It still had many years of service left," she said of the bridge. "It's only down because a truck pulled it down."

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Associated Press writer David Runk contributed to this report.

AP

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