In early February, a tractor-trailer plunged into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, resulting in the death of the driver. After the initial crash, the driver was seen alive on the roof of the vehicle, but by the time a U.S. Navy rescue helicopter reached him, he was found unresponsive.
The rescue helicopter managed to pull the driver from the frigid waters, but he died en route to a nearby hospital, according to the deputy director of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District. The driver was later identified as a 47-year-old resident of Greenville, North Carolina.
The deputy director said that investigators will be determining what factors led to the accident, which may include high wind speed or a medical emergency. He stated that the 23-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has had 12 accidents that involved drivers plunging from the bridge since its initial opening in 1964. Of those 12 accidents, ten individuals died, including the driver of this most recent incident.
At the time of the accident, there were no travel restrictions for trucks in place because wind speeds were between 40 to 47 mph, said the deputy director. Restrictions had been in place earlier in the day though, as wind speeds reached up to 60 mph. When wind reaches such high speeds, travel on the bridge is limited to cars, pickup trucks and SUV’s that aren’t hauling cargo.
According to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Zilnicki, the tractor-trailer left the bridge shortly before 12:30 p.m and the Coast Guard’s initial rescue mission was forced to abort due to heavy winds. The spokeswoman for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission stated that weather conditions had also thwarted attempts made by her agency to use boats to rescue the driver.
The driver was eventually pulled from the water by a search and rescue swimmer from a nearby naval helicopter running routine exercises. “The search and rescue swimmer went into the water and rescued the driver. And they hoisted him aboard the helicopter and transported him [to the hospital],” said Mike Maus, a Naval Air Force Atlantic spokesman.
Accidents happen every day. Some cannot be prevented, but some can. At Alpert Schreyer LLC, our attorneys have years of experience dealing with personal injury claims. Put us in your corner, and let us help you to achieve the peace of mind that you deserve. Contact us today using the contact form on this page, or by phone, to get started with your free case evaluation.