Paoli Bridge Collapse: Truck Driver Charged For Ignoring Weight Limit Sign, Said She Didn't Know How Many Pounds Equaled 6 Tons

Tara Dodrill

A Paoli bridge collapsed after a tractor-trailer drove onto it, and the truck driver involved in the crash is now facing criminal charges. The historic bridge, which is located in southern Indiana, was completely destroyed during the incident. A math error appears to have been a contributing factor in the driver's decision to cross the landmark Lick Creek bridge.

An investigation into the Indiana bridge collapse remains ongoing, but preliminary reports alleged that the truck driver went onto the Paoli bridge in a tractor-trailer that weighed too much to cross over the waterway route. The driver, Mary Lambright, 23, attempted to use the circa 1880 Lick Creek bridge on Christmas evening. She was reportedly hauling a 53-foot trailer that was carrying about 43,000 pounds of bottled water when the bridge collapsed beneath her wheels.

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"As you can tell they went in way too fast, clipped the top of the trailer, ripped it back about a third of the way back," Paoli Police Chief Randall Sanders said.

It took first responders several hours to unload the thousands of bottles of water before they could begin investigating the accident and attempt to remove the tractor-trailer from the Paoli bridge. Lambright currently faces only a $135 fine for ignoring the posted weight limit and no trucks sign, Chief Sanders also noted.

The downtown Lick Creek bridge will be closed for several weeks and possibly months before any efforts to rebuild the local landmark can begin. Lambright told law enforcement investigators that she did see the weight limit and "no semis" sign but also said that she did not know "how many pounds six tons was." The tractor-trailer she was driving reportedly weighed close to 30 tons at the time of the Indiana bridge collapse.

The truck driver being blamed for the Paoli bridge collapse also told police officials that she was uncomfortable backing up the semi truck and that fear played into her decision to drive across the bridge. Mary Lambright is a new tractor-trailer driver, and she reportedly earned her Commercial Drivers License (CDL) endorsement in early May. She is currently employed by Louisville Logistics.

Once the water bottle removal and on-site investigation were completed, the tractor-trailer was towed off the Paoli bridge and hauled to another location, where it will be inspected by Indiana State Police investigators. Lambright has been cited for a misdemeanor charge of reckless operation of a tractor-trailer, disregarding a traffic control device, and overweight on posted bridge violation.

Do you think more extensive criminal charges and damages should be levied against the truck driver for ignoring the weight limit sign and causing the collapse of the Paoli bridge?

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