I-75 Bridge Collapses, Killing Construction Worker, Injuring Another In Cincinnati Overpass

The life of a construction worker is lost after an Interstate 75 bridge – built in 1961 –collapsed at a Cincinnati, Ohio overpass during a scheduled demolition, USA Today reports.

At 10:30 p.m. Monday, a Cincinnati construction crew was preparing for a demolition at the Old Hopple Street overpass when the I-75 bridge collapsed suddenly, killing a construction worker and injuring the driver of a tractor tailor; the driver was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and is expected to recover.

The construction worker was later identified as 35-year-old Brandon Carl of Augusta, Kentucky. His best friend, Billy Hargett, witnessed the horrifying accident. Hargett was working side-by-side with Carl on I-75 just minutes before it collapsed. He stated that he turned around to walk away from the bridge, and then heard a loud boom. Hargett turned around just in time to see the bridge collapse, but not in time to save his friend.

Hargett said he tried to rush over to save Carl, but it was too late. The construction worker had already been submerged under cement, debris, and bridge remnants, investigators say. According to WLWT, 100 tons of cement fell and nearby residents felt the ground shake.

Casey Wright, a nearby resident, stated, “I was sitting in my house watching TV and we felt, heard a boom and felt our house shake, and it’s happened over the last couple of nights, and unfortunately after this one happened, we heard sirens. It shook hard enough to where I’m sure the whole neighborhood felt it.”

Hargett’s wife, Crystal, spoke with reporters about the close relationship her husband had with his best friend, Carl.

“Billy said he just pulled his brother out. They were so close that (Billy) called him his brother. They drove to work together every day. You’re looking at three children under the age of 9 at home in Kentucky that are going to wake up looking for their daddy. And his fiancé, they were high school sweethearts. It’s heartbreaking.”

Crystal also recalls that eerie phone call she received at 10:30 p.m. Monday from her husband, informing her of the I-75 bridge collapse and that he lost his best friend.

Carl’s mother, fiancé, and 14-year-old daughter were at the scene Tuesday morning. His other three children remained at home.

Carl and the rest of the construction crew usually work during the day, but for this particular project, they were working longer than expected.

“They shouldn’t have been out there this week,” Hargett commented.

The police chief Jeff Blackwell is referring to the incident as a workplace accident while others are calling it the “catastrophic pancake collapse.”

“The big-rig driver is very lucky; in a matter of seconds his fate would have probably been different,” Blackwell stated.

Police officials aren’t sure as to how or why the bridge collapsed when it received satisfactory ratings during its last inspection, but an investigation is underway.

[Image via USA Today]