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June 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM

NTSB update: Trucker in bridge collapse felt crowded, moved right

UPDATE: 3:15 p.m. | The truck driver whose tall load triggered the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River told investigators he felt crowded by a passing truck and moved toward his right — where the clearance was only 14′ 8″ or about 13 inches shorter than the truck’s load.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a one-page, preliminary report Tuesday about the May 23 incident near Mount Vernon, through a link on the @NTSB Twitter site.

Both the truck, and a pilot car in front, approached the bridge in the right lane, said NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson in an interview.  “He was in the right lane, and I guess he moved over a bit further,” said Knudson.

This drawing shows the curvature of the I-5 bridge overhead crossbeams. (Graphic / Washington State Department of Transportation)

This drawing shows the curvature of the I-5 bridge overhead crossbeams. (Graphic / Washington State Department of Transportation)

The truck was driven by William Scott of Alberta-based Mullen Trucking. There was a pilotcar in front, with a warning pole set to measure 16′ 2″, pilot-car driver Tammy DeTray told the NTSB.  The pole was on the right side of DeTray’s pickup, said Knudson.

The truck was carrying part of a drilling platform to a storage yard in Vancouver, Wash., according to Mullen Trucking. The NTSB also has said the load was wide, which may have affected what clearances Scott’s truck had as it crossed the bridge.

NTSB’s update adds context to video footage that showed a white truck passing Scott’s high load near the bridge entrance. The update doesn’t reveal why the Mullen truck traveled in the right lane, instead of claiming the safer left lane.

Investigators are still seeking the driver of the white truck for an interview. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Washington State Patrol.

The north span of the four-span freeway bridge fell into the river, taking with it a car and a pickup. Three people sustained minor injuries when they and their vehicles fell into the water. This week, contractors for the state Department of Transportation are installing a temporary span. A permanent replacement is expected to be in place by September.

Comments | More in General news, Traffic & Transit | Topics: NTSB, Skagit River bridge

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