Oct. 8, 2003 – A freak accident along Veterans Drive crippled rush-hour traffic near Addelita Cancryn Junior High School on Wednesday and left Public Works officials with the ticklish task of removing the dump truck body that had separated from the unit hauling it and become caught in the overhead walkway by the school, suspended several feet above the road.
The accident was reported to police around 3:24 p.m., well after school had let out for the day. It was not immediately clear what caused the dump body to separate from the truck bed.
The container "inadvertently flew up in the air and became entangled in the bridge," was the explanation offered by Sgt. Thomas Hannah, Police Department spokesman. A traffic signal at the intersection by the walkway and a compact car that had been traveling next to the truck also were damaged, he said.
As Public Works Commissioner Wayne Callwood gazed at the upright dump body while crew members shoveled sand onto oil that had spilled into the roadway from the truck, he said: "I guess there were some type of mechanical problems with the truck." He said it appeared that the driver had not realized that the container "was being lifted on its own."
Callwood also said it appeared that some of the girders on the bridge were separated by the impact of the crash.
There was no immediate information as to what company owned the truck, who was driving it, or whether the driver would be cited.
By 6 p.m., workers had extracted the container, and Callwood said barriers would be posted around the bottom of the spiral staircases on either side of the bridge to prevent pedestrians from using the walkway.
The settings of the traffic signal at the intersection where the accident occurred allow only a very short time for pedestrians to cross the road from the south side, where the school is located, to the north. Hundreds of Cancryn students cross the busy thoroughfare every day, many using the overhead walkway to do so safely.
Now, Callwood said, the bridge will remain closed until tests verify its structural integrity. He said Public Works will "determine whether or not it's unsafe to keep it standing the way it is."
Late Wednesday afternoon, Hannah appealed to parents of Cancryn students to talk with their youngsters about not to trying to use the bridge for now. "Look for the police officer or school crossing guard who will be in the area to assist your children in crossing the roadway," he said. "We are asking them not to use the bridge. Please do not use that bridge."
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