I-40 bridge disaster
Joe Dedmon, captain of the towboat Robert Y. Love, experienced a blackout and lost control of the tow. This, in turn, caused the barges he was controlling to collide with a bridge pier. The result was a 580-foot (176.78 m) section of the Interstate 40 bridge plunging into Robert S. Kerr Reservoir on the Arkansas River. Fourteen people died and eleven others were injured when several automobiles and tractor-trailers fell from the bridge.
Rescue efforts were complicated when William James Clark, impersonating a U.S. Army captain, was able to take command of the disaster scene for two days. Clark's efforts included directing FBI agents and appropriating vehicles and equipment for the rescue effort, before fleeing the scene. Clark, already a two-time felon, was later apprehended in Canada.
An estimated 20,000 vehicles per day were rerouted for about two months while crews rebuilt the bridge. Traffic resumed Monday, July 29, 2002, only two months after the disaster. The reopening set a new national record for such a project, which would normally be expected to take six months.
On Memorial Day 2003, that year on May 26, a memorial statue was dedicated by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry in Webbers Falls, Oklahoma. The artist, Shahla Rahimi-Reynolds, created the sculpture and attended the dedication.
- List of bridge disasters
- List of crossings of the Arkansas River
- Tasman Bridge disaster - 7,000 ton ore-carrier hit bridge piers causing collapse of roadway
- Queen Isabella Causeway - A similar accident in 2001
- Granville railway disaster - Train hits piers
- Big Bayou Canot train disaster - Amtrak train plunged off bridge that had been hit by a barge.
- Article from 'The Oklahoman'
- Article from CNN
- Fainting spell led to barge crash, bridge collapse, NTSB concludes
- Aerial Photo Gallery
- I-40 bridge collision NTSB report