DC police report details close calls in pedestrian bridge collapse

The aftermath of the bridge collapse in Northeast D.C. Wednesday. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

The police report of the truck crash that brought down a pedestrian bridge over D.C. 295 Wednesday morning details some very near misses that easily could have caused serious injuries or worse, with one car hit by falling concrete and another by a large highway sign.

The police report said that the truck driver had just left a nearby concrete plant and was heading south on 295 just before noon. He told the police he had forgotten to lower his subframe. That evidently caused his Mack truck to become taller than the 14-foot clearance of the bridge over D.C. 295 (Kenilworth Avenue) near Lane Place in Northeast.

The driver hit the bridge just before noon, bringing it down on top of its subframe.

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A BMW next to the truck in the middle lane swerved as the truck hit the bridge, and crashed into the jersey barrier on the left. The car made it past the pedestrian bridge, but then was hit in the windshield and hood by “a large piece of concrete” that had fallen from the bridge.

A Honda Accord in the middle lane behind the BMW was hit on the hood by the large “Benning Road/Foote St.” highway sign that fell from the bridge; then it was rear-ended by a pickup truck.

Five people were in these four vehicles, the police said; four people were taken to hospitals for injuries the police said were not life-threatening. The road was closed for more than 13 hours, reopening around 1 a.m. Thursday.

The D.C. Fire and EMS called it the “Miracle on DC 295,” referring to the relatively minor injuries and the fast reopening of the road. D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart had said Wednesday afternoon that the road could be closed through Thursday, and the D.C. emergency alert system had sent out an alert saying the road was expected to be closed until 10 p.m. Thursday.

The driver of the truck has not been charged; the investigation continues.

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Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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