Investigators seek second truck in I-5 bridge collapse

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 6/5/2013

Washington State Patrol investigators are looking a truck and driver that may have been attempting to pass the oversize load that struck an Interstate 5 bridge seconds before part of the bridge collapsed into the Skagit River on May 23.

Trooper Mark Francis, public information officer for District 7, took to social media on Tuesday, June 4, in an attempt to locate the second truck.

Francis posted an update on Twitter that said “detectives looking for (unknown) color semi w/ white trailer passing oversize load in left lane as bridge collapsed,” followed by “detectives would like semi driver’s perspective of event. Oversize load may have struck the top of other semi. Call WSP detectives.”

The search for facts and the perspective of that driver could help the National Transportation Safety Board determine why the Skagit River Bridge collapsed seconds after being struck by an over-height load.

Rescuers had to pull three occupants of passenger vehicles from the river, but there were no fatalities.

The driver of one of the passenger vehicles that plunged into the river told local news in Seattle that a second truck was attempting to pass or draw even with the oversize load as the vehicles arrived at the bridge. The witness noted that the oversize load did not seem to have enough clearance in the right lane and struck overhead bridge supports.

The driver of the oversize load, who works for Mullen Trucking in Alberta, Canada, had a permit and was accompanied by a pilot car.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman stated during a recorded press briefing on May 28 that the bridge had a history of being struck by over-dimensional trucks – most recently in October 2012.

Overhead supports were 18 feet above the bridge deck in the middle of the bridge lanes, but only 14-feet, 6-inches above the bridge deck at the shoulders.

Mullen Trucking possessed a permit for 15-feet, 6-inches – meaning the load had clearance to travel down the middle but not close to the edges.

The investigation, the cleanup and work on a temporary bridge fix are ongoing. Washington State intends to replace the bridge with a permanent structure.

See related stories:
Collapsed I-5 bridge had a history of vehicle strikes, investigators say
I-5 bridge north of Seattle collapses after being struck by wide load

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