Doctors: towboat pilot in Oklahoma bridge disaster has heart problem

| 6/14/2002

Doctors reportedly have determined the man piloting the towboat that crashed into the I-40 bridge in Webbers Falls, OK, may have had a heart ailment that can lead to unconsciousness.

William Joe Dedmon reportedly may have suffered an episode of ventricular tachycardia the morning of the collision. Cardiologists at a Mississippi hospital where Dedmon had tests done reportedly diagnosed the condition, which comes without warning or symptoms. The condition causes the heart to beat too rapidly, resulting in a loss of oxygen to the brain and a loss of consciousness.

Dedmon told investigators he blacked out just before the May 26 collision on the Arkansas River, which sent more than 500 feet of bridge and 10 vehicles into the murky water. Fourteen people, including a 3-year-old child, died in the accident.