DETROIT (AP) - When bridges and ships collide, it’s usually the fault of the
On Sunday, authorities in Detroit were blaming a drawbridge operator, who
they say lowered the bridge onto the top of a passing 690-foot Great Lakes
freighter as it hauled 23,000 tons of iron pellets up the Rouge River to a
The impact heavily damaged the bridge, but no people were hurt. Police took
the 43-year-old bridge operator into custody on suspicion she was
intoxicated, Coast Guard Lt. Justin Westmiller told the Detroit Free Press.
She was being tested for drugs and alcohol.
“At this point in the investigation, we believe that it was the fault of the
bridge operator closing the bridge as the ship was still transiting
through,” Westmiller said.
The bridge was built in 1922 and is listed on the National Register of
The Coast Guard said the Jefferson Avenue bridge struck the Herbert C.
Jackson at around 2:10 a.m. Sunday as its crew of 24 was taking it to
Dearborn’s Severstal North America plant. The Interlakes Steamship Co. owns
The bridge is just upstream from where the Rouge enters the Detroit River.
The ship sustained a 2-inch gash in the hull about 15 feet above the
waterline, officials said.
“It appears as though the brunt of the damage was taken by the bridge,”
Wayne County spokeswoman Cindy Dingell said the bridge will be closed
indefinitely to vehicle traffic and authorities will determine the severity
of the damage and the nature of the repairs needed. She said this kind of
accident is rare.
“Usually we have a boat once in a while that will hit our bridge, but we
have never had operator error that has caused a situation like this in the
91 years we have been operating this,” she told WDIV-TV.