A tractor trailer hit a maintenance vehicle and a light pole on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel last Thursday at 10 am, plunging off the bridge into the bay below. The driver of the truck was killed.
The VA Beach Fire Department reported that Navy divers are trying to recover the truck driver’s body. His rig fell into water 26 feet deep.
Immediately after the crash, the trailer floated into Chesapeake Bay.
According to Jeff Holland, executive director of the bridge tunnel, the truck went over the side after it ran into two maintenance trucks that were working in a closed lane. They were doing crack sealing work on the pavement. The worker whose vehicle was hit was not hurt. Other maintenance workers were not injured.
One of the reasons that no one else was injured was due to a new safety feature on the back of the maintenance vehicle. It is designed to absorb the crash impact and keep people working on the site from being injured. Tom Anderson, spokesman for the bridge tunnel, said that the devices worked as they were supposed to work.
Two Coast Guard boats and a Navy helicopter responded to the accident.
Private divers also are being used now to recover the driver’s body. The truck doors were smashed so they could not open them to get the driver out.
The cause of this wreck is being investigated. However, it is thought that the truck driver did not see warning signs that the northbound bridge was going to be reduced to one lane.
Anderson stated that the driver must have realized the lane was closed at the last second, as he swerved to avoid the maintenance vehicle. But he still smashed into the back of it, and plunged into the water below.
Some truck drivers have worried in the past about the safety of the bridge tunnel. They note that the roadway is long, narrow, with heavy traffic and the guardrails are too low for trucks.