Heavy equipment was being used to separate the concrete deck on the Hopple Street overpass, a stretch of I-75 just north of downtown Cincinnati, when a late-night collapse left a construction worker dead and a big-rig driver injured. The span of bridge was being removed by Kokosing Construction as part of a three-year project to improve traffic flow and safety. At some point during the project, something went wrong, and the span fell.
Brandon William Carl, 35, of Augusta, Kentucky, was killed in the collapse, which brought hundreds of tons of concrete, metal and machinery on to the highway below. It took rescue workers around four hours to recover his body from the rubble using air bags and special equipment.
A tractor-trailer was passing under the bridge when rubble started to fall, causing driver Eric Meyers, 36, of Howell, Michigan to crash. Remarkably, Meyers wasn’t seriously hurt. He was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center with minor injuries. Police Chief Jeff Blackwell said of the accident, “The big-rig driver is very lucky; in a matter of seconds his fate would have probably been different.”
Police also said that the accident could have been much worse if the collapse had happened during a busy time on the interstate. Because the accident occurred around 10:30pm, instead of at rush hour, hundreds if not thousands of commuters’ lives were saved. Acting deputy director of the Ohio transportation department’s southwest Ohio district, Gary Middleton, said the accident occurred during a “routine operation” and that Kokosing is a “very safety-conscious” contractor.
Kokosing could be fined for forcing lane closures and face disciplinary action by OSHA, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is investigating Carl’s death. The company has had fewer than ten OSHA violations since 2003. Scott Allen, a spokesman for OSHA, said, “That’s a good track record for any company.”
Though it could have been so much worse, this tragic accident left a young family fatherless and another man injured. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Brandon Carl, who left behind a fiancée and four children.