RIDGWAY, ELK COUNTY – Officials haven’t released the names of the three workers injured in a bridge collapse today.
Investigators are still looking into how it happened and how to proceed from here.
Surveillance cameras were rolling as half of the Highway 219 bridge in the 100 block of North Broad Street over Elk Creek came tumbling down, with two workers from subcontractor Allegheny Diamond Services underneath.
“The ones that sustained injuries were the workers, the subcontractor that was doing the saw cutting underneath the bridge,” says PennDOT Assistant District Executive for Construction Ben LaParne. “The two workers on top of the deck received bumps and bruises as they slid down the deck and into the backhoe.”
“We were actually gonna get gas and we came down and saw a bunch of fire trucks everywhere,” says bystander Kaitlin Yankovich.
At a pizzeria nearby, workers heard a noise that didn’t seem unusual.
“I was waiting to see a semi truck go past, thinking they went over the railroad tracks. No semi went past and I was just thinking something broke,” says pizzeria employee Lauren Laughner.
“There was a guy that he was being put into a neck brace,” says witness Dina White.
Onlookers couldn’t believe their eyes as they went to the edge of the yellow caution tape, spotting the half of the bridge that was closed to traffic now split in half.
“All you could see was the bottom part of the bridge laying on the ground,” says onlooker Linda Elmquist.
“The other day we seen the crane on there and we wondered why it was still on there but now it’s gone down,” says onlooker Clayton Shobert.
“They were gong to start removing the parapets tomorrow,” says LaParne.
Palo Contruction of Clarion is in the middle of replacing the bridge, LaParne said.
LaParne explained that a Palo employee and a consultant inspector were on top of the bridge. Crews underneath had already made a series of cuts in the bridge.
“And they were in the process of making the last vertical cut in the second abutment,” says LaParne.
Then, suddenly, the collapse. Now crews must investigate the wreckage to decide how to proceed.
It happened around 2:11 p.m. and of the three construction workers injured, one was taken by helicopter from St. Marys, Fire Chief Scott Pontious said. A fourth person was not hurt on top of the bridge.
The incident commander says they made rescues from under the bridge.
There is a hydraulic excavator that was on the bridge. WTAJ looked up the weight of the 235C Caterpillar machine, which came in at 84,000 pounds. LaParne wouldn’t say whether that had an impact on the collapse, saying that will be up to investigators to determine.
The area will be closed for now. Engineers hired by PennDOT are due in on Friday to do a forensic investigation into this collapse. There’s no word yet in the injured workers’ conditions.
EARLIER UPDATE – Three workers were sent to the hospital after a bridge collapse.
The part of the bridge that collapsed was under construction.
It happened around 2 p.m. Thursday in Ridgway, Elk County.
The workers are from Palo Construction in Clarion. One of those workers was flown to the hospital. Right now there’s no word on the extent of their injuries.