Trailer hit 11 sway braces on bridge, leading to collapse.
(Olympia) – Detectives from the Washington State Patrol have determined that the truck which struck the I-5 Skagit River Bridge in May 2013, leading to its collapse, was two inches over-height.
In a report released today, detectives found the truck was permitted to carry a load of no higher than 15-feet nine inches. After the collision, they noted the load measured 15-feet eleven inches. The over-height load struck eleven of the bridge’s sway braces as it crossed the structure.
The collision happened on May 23, 2013, shortly after 7:00 p.m. After the collapse, two vehicles fell into the river and the occupants had to be rescued by a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol unit. They suffered non-life threatening injuries and have recovered.
The only fatality related to the collapse came on May 31, 2013, when WSP Trooper Sean O’Connell was killed while directing traffic at a detour around the scene.
Detectives also determined that the pole carried by a pilot car hit the bridge structure, which should have triggered a warning. However, the driver of an over-height load is the person legally responsible for safe transit, not the driver of any support vehicle or pilot car.
Driver William D.W. Scott of Alberta, Canada was cited by the State Patrol for Negligent Driving in the Second Degree which is a traffic infraction carrying a fine of $550.
The report states Scott should have moved into the center lane of the bridge, which would have accommodated even the over-height load. Investigators determined only four seconds passed between the time the pilot car’s pole hit the bridge and the truck’s load hit the first sway brace. The truck was following approximately 350 feet behind the pilot car.
The detective’s Report of Investigation is available here: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/_secured/cid_reports/skagit_case_summary_redacted.pdf