I-40 bridge disaster

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The collapsed section of the Interstate 40 bridge, May 31, 2002

The I-40 bridge disaster was a bridge collapse that occurred southeast of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, United States at 7:45 a.m. on May 26, 2002. Joe Dedmon, captain of the towboat Robert Y. Love, experienced a fainting spell 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 and recovery[edit]

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.[1]

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.[2]

On Memorial Day 2003, that year on May 26, a memorial statue was dedicated by Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry in Webbers Falls, Oklahoma.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Man convicted for bridge fraud". 10th circuit court of appeals. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  2. ^ "Traffic flows again on I-40 bridge". NewsOK.com. 30 July 2002. Retrieved April 11, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°29′10″N 95°05′57″W / 35.4861°N 95.0991°W / 35.4861; -95.0991