Crash Closes Eastbound Lanes of Varnedoe Bridge - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/18/05

Crash Closes Eastbound Lanes of Varnedoe Bridge

One side of the Sam Varnedo bridge renains closed down this evening. Around 10:30 Monday morning, James McGowan crashed his dump truck into the bridge as it opened. The eastbound side is closed down. They're using one westbound lane for people trying to get on and off the islands. It could be weeks before they re-open the the eastbound lanes.

76 year-old James McGowan is in critical condition at memorial health. Bridge tender Wesley Bowers says that this was one of the worst things he's ever seen. He had just lowered the gates to stop vehicle traffic in all directions. As he threw the switch to open the draw bridge letting boat traffic pass under. "I heard the gate smash and the guy was just coming thru and hit the bridge."

The weight of the fully loaded dump truck forced the western half of the bridge down. That forced the front of the truck to crashed into the raised portion of the bridge. The impact nearly sheered off the cab of the dump truck. The accident that also severely damaged both sides of the bridge. The bridge is not operational and will will not be operational for quite some time.

Until they fix the bridge and reopen the eastbound lanes, the westbound side will be one lane going onto the islands and one lane coming off. The operators of large boats and yachts won t be able to go under the bridge and must take the long way around--adding 3 to 4 hours to the trip.

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