Over-height Truck Causes Texas Bridge Collapse
The Texas Department of Public Safety was forced to shut down Interstate 35 in both directions near Salado for most of the day Thursday, after a bridge collapsed onto the highway, killing at least one person and injuring three others.
The bridge didn’t just collapse; it had help. A large truck heading northbound on the highway was too high to clear an overpass that was under construction and managed to dislodge two steel and concrete beams, and the bridge fell on several vehicles on the interstate, including a pickup truck that was traveling southbound. The 32-year-old driver of that vehicle was killed in the collapse. His name has not been released pending notification of family.
At first, there seemed to be some confusion as to the posted height of the bridge, but its actual height is 14 feet and one-half inch, according to the Texas Department of Transportation, and there are three signs in the two miles leading up to the bridge reading a vertical clearance of 13 feet six inches. Officials note that the signs always read lower than the bridge’s actual height, so as to create a margin of error.
This is not the first time a large truck has tried to ram their vehicles through a bridge, but according to DPS, it tends to be rare, because drivers usually know the height of their truck and they’re aware of the height limitations going in. According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, any truck with a load higher than 14 feet must have a permit for an oversized load.
The truck that caused the bridge collapse was owned by Lares Trucking. It was a flatbed truck hauling a cherry picker, which is an elevated work platform. The owner of the company, Julian Lares, said the truck had a permit to carry the load, but he didn’t know the bridge was too low, because it was a new bridge. He did wonder why they would build a new bridge so low.
In addition to the man who died at the scene, according to the Bell County Sheriff’s Office, three other people were transported to a nearby hospital for injuries described as non-life threatening after the accident. At least three semi-trailers were also damaged in the incident, which is being investigated.
So many aspects of this tragic accident will have to be looked at very closely, including the qualifications and condition of the truck driver, the truck and the load being carried, the signs and markings on the road and the stability of the overpass itself.
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed, please contact the Texas Truck Accident Lawyer at Hill Law Firm as soon as possible, to ensure that evidence is preserved and the rights of all victims are protected from trucking companies, insurance carriers, or other potentially negligent parties.