331 Bridge over bay closed due to wreck

Discussion in 'Local Government and Groups' started by GVM, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. GVM

    GVM Beach Lover

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    The bridge will be closed today -- Wednesday 4/27 -- at least until 4:30 or 5:30PM Central time, according to the Walton County Sheriff's office, due to an accident a few hours ago.
     
  2. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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  3. beachyteachy

    beachyteachy Beach Fanatic

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    Does anyone know what happened? So far, I've heard 2-3 different stories. One being that there was structural damage to the bridge and that it would still be closed tomorrow. This was pretty unnerving to one of our teacher who drives from Rock Hill Rd. to Bay Elem. Does anyone have an update???
     
  4. GVM

    GVM Beach Lover

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    Sheriff says bridge is now re-opened

    Don't know what happened...but it's back in operation.
     
  5. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    http://headlinesupdate.fec.mhe.viapointe.com/templates/waltonsun.php?bnID=1

    With the smell of diesel fuel still hanging in the air, Thomas Hicks and his family took comfort that he had survived a crash so forceful that the cab of a semi-tractor trailer ended up on the fishing pier beneath the Clyde B. Wells Bridge.
    ?It appeared the cab of the semi was ripped off and landed on the lower bridge, the driver was ejected,? said Sean Hughes, deputy chief of the South Walton Fire District who was working the scene beneath the bridge.
    At the top of the bridge, the remnants of the two vehicles were scattered across both lanes: The frame, motor and trailer from a Consolidated Ace Hardware truck rested on the northbound side of the bridge. Hicks? pickup truck, the detached truck bed and a trailer he was hauling were on the southbound side. The Bobcat from Hicks? trailer nudged up to the semi.
    Details of the accident were sketchy, but one witness, 17-year-old Paul Langley of Inlet Beach was three cars back and saw, ?a cloud of smoke and the truck went through it.?
    Langley was headed north and noticed ?one of the trucks had a digger on it.?
    There was so much smoke he didn?t see what caused the accident.
    Langley saw a victim down on the road below and went to see if the guy was OK.
    ?He wasn?t.?
    ?I couldn?t tell you what happened,? said Hicks, owner of Thomas Hicks Landscaping and Irrigation in Santa Rosa Beach. ?It?s just a blur to me.?
    South Walton firefighters contained a diesel spill on the bridge. The Coast Guard and the Florida Department of Transportation worked to contain the spilled fuel in the Bay.
    The accident occurred about 10:30 a.m. and the bridge was expected to remain closed until 6 p.m.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. FoX

    FoX Beach Fanatic

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    :shock: What a mess. Sad.
     
  7. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    Word quickly came around that there was a fatality from the wreck, and around here, there is a good chance it may be someone you know personally, so there was great concern on everyone's part. People were on the phone touching base with their spouses, friends, and loved ones, ensuring it was their loved one in the crash. The word I received was that a truck, with a loader on a trailer in tow, seperated from the trailer, causing the following truck to swerve, missing the loose trailer, yet jumping the rail, landing on the old road below. The person driving the truck which went over the edge was reportedly killed. Reports were that 2 patrol boats were at the scene, but no one, nor vehicle went into the Bay. I pray for everyone involved as well as their family and friends.
     
  8. beachyteachy

    beachyteachy Beach Fanatic

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    Thanks for the info. I'm certainly keeping everyone in my prayers!
     
  9. beachmouse

    beachmouse Beach Fanatic

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    From today's Daily News:

    "SANTA ROSA BEACH ? A semi-trailer cab tumbled off the top of the U.S. Highway 331 bridge Wednesday after a vehicle crossed into its path, killing the semi?s driver and closing the bridge for eight hours. Randall D. Sterling III died instantly when he was ejected from the cab and plummeted to the concrete fishing pier on the east side of the bridge, officials on the scene said."
     
  10. lenzoe

    lenzoe Beach Fanatic

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    From the April 30, 2005 Walton Sun:

    [...]
    "According to the report filed by the Florida Highway Patrol, Thomas Hicks, owner of Thomas Hicks Landscaping and Irrigation, Chat Holley Road, Santa Rosa Beach, was traveling south on the 331 bridge towing a trailer with a Bobcat (a small dirt mover) on it, when the trailer began to fishtail, crossed the center line and struck Sterling?s vehicle.
    Sterling was northbound in a semi tractor trailer owned by Ace and used for deliveries.
    The force of the crash caused the Bobcat to break loose from Hicks? trailer and strike the front of Sterling?s cab. The tractor trailer was forced into the eastern side of the bridge railing. The cab detached from its frame and was propelled over the bridge onto the former bridge, now a fishing pier, approximately 60 feet below, taking Sterling with it. "
    [...]

    What causes a towed trailer to start fish-tailing? Blown tire on the trailer? Any of you boat-owners have an opinion?
     
  11. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    A blown tire probably would have been reported. Could have been a swerve or jerk of the wheel.
     
  12. lenzoe

    lenzoe Beach Fanatic

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    Also from the April 30, 2005 Walton Sun:

    If something like this happened during a huricanne evacuation .... what a mess that would be.

    ===================

    North-south artery shut down

    Think we don?t need another way out of South Walton? Where were you when the 331 bridge was closed?


    BY JOYCE OWEN SUN REPORTER

    When the Clyde B. Wells Bridge was closed for more than seven hours Wednesday, drivers on both sides of the Choctawhatchee Bay were stranded with few options to get them to their destinations.
    The bridge closed around 10:30 a.m. and did not reopen until shortly after 5:30 p.m.
    On the south side of the bridge, dump trucks lined up as drivers decided to wait and see how long the road might be closed.
    For Lacey and Pablo Hernandez and Sharon Santiago who stopped by the 3-Thirty-1 Caf? to grab a soda, that decision put them on the wrong side of the bridge.
    Lacey?s husband Pablo, who works at the caf?, had offered to run in and get them a soda. By the time he returned to the car, the accident had occurred leaving them stranded on the south side of the bridge.
    Walton County Sheriff?s deputies advised folks to detour to the Mid-Bay Bridge in Destin.
    For Hernandez and Santiago, who live just north of the bridge and their 11-day old and 5-month old babies in the backseat, the detour back home was not the answer. After much debate, the two young women left Pablo at the restaurant to wait for his 1 p.m. shift and headed to Lacey?s sister?s home in Santa Rosa Beach to put the babies down for a nap.
    Though deputies warned the bridge might be closed for three to four hours, folks in the parking lot at the 3-Thirty-1 caf? wondered if they should just go in for lunch and hope the road closure would be so long.
    While most people took the deputies advice and went west, a few drivers headed toward Panama City Beach and the West Bay Bridge (State Road 79) over the Choctawhatchee Bay rather than following the stream of traffic west on Chat Holly to navigate the detour to the Mid-Bay Bridge in Destin.
    An unidentified couple from Wisconsin who planned to meet friends for lunch at the 3-Thirty-1 Caf? learned the couple was stuck in the long lines north of the Bay. After phone calls back and forth, they decided to meet in Panama City Beach. The friends took State Road 20 to 79 and over the West Bay Bridge.
    For the driver stuck on the north side of the bridge delivering meals for the South Walton Senior Center, the delay meant folks at the Center didn?t get their lunch until nearly 1 p.m.
    The bridge closing did not affect Walton County School District students.
    "If the kids didn?t know about the accident, they weren?t aware of any changes," said WCSD Transportation Supervisor Mac Work.
    Work said several bus drivers were already on the south side of the Bay doing field trips. Two Butler Elementary School drivers who were on the north side took the Mid-Bay Bridge to make their regular runs.
    "If it (the bridge) had been a four-lane, you could have shut down two lanes and gone on," Work said.
     
  13. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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  14. kurt

    kurt Admin Staff Member

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    Thomas Hicks arrested for vehicular homicide
    August 19, 2005

    Thomas Jay Hicks, owner of Thomas Hicks Landscaping, was arrested by officers from the Florida Highway Patrol on Thursday for vehicular homicide.
    The arrest grows out of an April 27 incident on the Clyde B. Wells Bridge in which Randall D. Sterling, DeFuniak Springs, was killed when the cab of the tractor -trailer rig he was driving went over the guardrail and crashed into the pavement below.
    According to FHP, Hicks was traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 331 and towing a large trailer loaded with a bobcat he used in his business. Hicks lost control of his vehicle and trailer, crossed the centerline and collided with the Sterling vehicle.
    Hicks was booked into the Walton County Jail.
     
  15. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    Wow!:blink:
     
  16. SlowMovin

    SlowMovin Beach Fanatic

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    There's got to be more to this story. Typically vehicular homicide is applied when the driver is DUI or engaging in gross recklessness/negligence. So far, all the stories I've read have said nothing about that being the case.
     
  17. OhioBeachBum

    OhioBeachBum Beach Fanatic

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    Excessive speed, truck and/or trailer suspension inadequate for the task (hauling a bobcat that has a heck of a lot of mass), faulty or no trailer brakes. Doesn't take much to start a trailer oscillating at higher (+45 mph) rates of speed when there's no sway damper between the truck and the trailer.
     
  18. Smiling JOe

    Smiling JOe SoWal Expert

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    Cell phones, radios, or daydreaming have all caused people to swerve off road before yanking the wheel to pull it back on the road. This could easily lead to a fishtailing trailer.

    I have purchased plants from Thomas, and been out to his farm, but could not really say that I know him. In my few encounters with him, he seems like nothing more than a straight up guy. The accident happened mid-morning, and unless we get the scoop, we could only speculate what happened.

    It only takes a second to run off the road and kill someone. You do not have to be an evil person to take someone's life. We all need to focus on driving, which should be the task in hand when in your vehicle, not putting on make-up, shaving, talking on our phones, etc. I know the Hick's family and the family of the driver who was killed wish that day could be rewound to replay its events in a different way.
     
  19. WaltonUndercurrent

    WaltonUndercurrent Beach Lover

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    It's my understanding that the bobcat on the trailer wasn't chained which enabled it to flip off the trailer - that may be the reason for the charge. Often in the past, haulers that don't have long distances to go will sometimes do this - though I've heard that they won't be doing it anymore.
     

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