Seattle, WA- Washington State Police say a truck driver should have known his rig was too tall for the Skagit River Bridge when he caused it collapse on 2013 and sent three people plunging into the water below.
A report released Monday listed a number of causes for the accident, but investigators ultimately said the driver was negligent and should have known he didn’t have enough clearance to make it across the bridge on May 23, 2013.
According to Reuters, the truck was hauling an oversized load and had a pilot car when it approached the bridge and proceeded to cross around 7 p.m. During the crossing, the truck, which was two inches too high clipped the trestle spanning the bridge, causing the middle to buckle.
Two vehicles that were on the bridge plunged into the river below and had to be rescued. The three people in the cars suffered minor injuries.
The report said truck driver William D.W. Scott, a native of Canada, should have moved his vehicle to the middle of the bridge and that would have prevented the accident. Scott said another truck prevented him from getting into the middle lane of the bridge.
WSP charged Scott with negligent driving, a minor traffic violation carrying a fine of $550.
The report noted that a pole on the pilot car touched the top of the bridge and that should have served as a warning. But the pilot car was not far enough ahead of the truck to caution the driver about the bridge height.
A previous investigation by the NTSB came up with similar conclusions and listed several deficiencies that led to the accident. The federal agency criticized the state for not having a system in place to ensure the routes commercial trucks take avoid structures that can’t accommodate larger vehicles.
Repairs to the Skagit River Bridge were completed in September of 2013 and the bridge was made taller to avoid accidents like these in the future.
Driver error is the leading cause of all traffic accidents. In the case of this accident, the truck driver miscalculated the how much clearance he had and underestimated the size of his truck.
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