who piloted the tugboat and barges that collided with the I-40
bridge in Webbers Falls, OK, May 26 had slept for less than
10 hours the 41.5 hours preceding the accident, the National
Transportation Safety Board has determined.
would not speculate whether tugboat pilot William Joe Dedmon
had fallen asleep at the wheel. According to news reports, Dedmon,
61, claims he doesn't remember anything after passing a channel
buoy about a half-mile from the bridge.
veered off the navigational channel on the Arkansas River and
rammed a support beam, causing a 580-foot section of the bridge
to collapse and sent 10 vehicles into the water. Fourteen motorists
claims he "blacked out" and did not fall asleep. A
spokesperson for the Vicksburg, MS-based Magnolia Marine Transport
Co., which owns the boat Dedmon was navigating, said the sleep
Dedmon had before the accident is not unusual. "We felt
like he was rested enough," the spokesperson told news
regulations do not require a specific amount of sleep for a
tugboat pilot, a Coast Guard spokesperson said. Regulations
do say a pilot must be on watch no more than 12 hours in a 24-hour
period, except in an emergency.
have determined Dedmon took over his captain's duties between
5 and 6 a.m. Sunday. The bridge was struck by the barge at 7:45
said Dedmon reported being awake 14 and a-half hours, then sleeping
3 and a-half hours, being awake 14 and a-half hours more and
then sleeping six hours before beginning his shift the morning
of the accident.
agreed to routine urine and blood tests after the collision.
Federal investigators said they have not determined an official
cause of the collision.