A Barge Struck the U.S. 59 Bridge Mere Days After the Dali Collision

A Barge Struck the U.S. 59 Bridge Mere Days After the Dali Collision On March 26, 2024 at approximately 1:30am, a cargo ship leaving the Port of Baltimore struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge, causing it to collapse. Six construction workers on the middle span of the bridge tragically lost their lives. The collapse has shut down ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore and continues to affect commuter and cargo traffic.

You might think a bridge strike like this is a once-in-a-lifetime accident, but just a few days ago right here at home, an Oklahoma family out fishing on the Arkansas River captured video of a massive barge crashing into a bridge. “The crash happened in the Arkansas River near Sallisaw. The bridge is on U.S. Highway 59, a busy roadway on a Saturday afternoon,” per KARK News.

Dayton Holland told KARK News, “I looked over at my dad and asked if it was going to hit the bridge and he was like, ‘I don’t think so.’” Then, “He looked back just before it hit, and he’s like, ‘Yes, it is.’”

No injuries were reported and the bridge was closed for only a few hours while structural engineers performed an investigation.

Are bridge strikes common in Oklahoma?

Bridge trikes involving boats are rare, actually. According to the Washington Post, “A 2018 report for the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure catalogued 35 major bridge collapses that were caused by boat strikes between 1960 and 2015, killing a total of 342 people. Eighteen of those incidents happened in the United States.”

Bridge strikes involving other vehicles, however, are pretty common. Oklahoma Turnpike Authority spokesperson Lisa Shearer-Salim told KOCO News 5 that there were “nine bridge hits just on the turnpike system” in 2023.

Notable boat-bridge strikes in the US

Let’s take a look at some other disasters involving boats striking bridges.

  • Popp’s Ferry Bridge (2009) – In this incident, a “vessel pushing eight barges rammed into the Popp’s Ferry Bridge in Biloxi, Mississippi, resulting in a 150-foot section of the bridge collapsing into the bay.”
  • Interstate 40 Bridge (2002) – This crash also happened on the Arkansas River here in Oklahoma. Fourteen people died and 11 were injured when a towboat lost control of its tow and sent barges crashing into the piers of the bridge.
  • Queen Isabella Causeway (2001) – A towboat with barges hit this Texas bridge, causing one of the spans to collapse. “Drivers coming from South Padre Island couldn’t see the missing spans until after they reached the peak of the bridge, giving them little time to react. Ten cars drove off the bridge, killing eight people and injuring three.”
  • Big Bayou Canot Bridge near Mobile Alabama (1993) – Forty-seven people were killed and 103 were injured when the towboat Mauvilla slammed into it. The bridge was displaced, and minutes later an Amtrak train arrived at the bridge and derailed.
  • Sunshine Skyway Bridge (1980) – This bridge across Lower Tampa Bay in Florida collapsed after being hit by a freight ship during a sudden storm. Vehicles were sent plunging into the water, killing 35 people.

Escaping if your car goes underwater

One of the most terrifying things imaginable is your car plunging into deep, cold water. The Washington Post reports, “Thermal physiologist Gordon Giesbrecht, a retired University of Manitoba professor with an expertise in vehicle submersion and hypothermia, said passengers have one minute to rescue themselves from a sinking car. Once the vehicle becomes even partially submerged, the odds of survival are slim.”

“A minute is kind of an average number,” he said. “So the windows will certainly work for 60 seconds, but if you know what you’re doing, you can open that window in 10 or 15 seconds

Giesbrecht notes that travelers should memorize the acronym “SWOC”:

  • Seatbelts off
  • Windows open
  • Out immediately
  • Children first

“A lot of people think you should open the doors, which you shouldn’t,” Giesbrecht added. “The car is just going deeper and deeper, and once the water gets up against the window, then you won’t even be able to open the window. So you’ve got to get that window open as soon as you can.”

He also states that smashing a car window is often “not feasible.”

In a similar vein, AAA uses the acronym “SURE” in the event your car goes underwater:

  • Stay calm
  • Unbuckle seat belts
  • Roll down or break windows
  • Exit the vehicle quickly

It’s also important to note that not all car windows will break, even with a special hammer. AAA states, “The majority of vehicle side windows are made from tempered glass, which shatters when broken. But an increasing number of vehicles are being built with laminated side window glass, which is nearly impossible to break.”

This means you need to know what kind of glass your vehicle’s windows are made of. AAA tested six different tools, and none were able to break the laminated glass. You can find out if your car’s side windows are tempered or laminated by looking at the information in the bottom corner of the window.

AAA also performed research on the various tools available to break yourself out of your car; you can see the results of that research here.

Were you injured in a bridge strike accident? The Oklahoma City boat accident attorneys at Cunningham & Mears are here to help. We will investigate your case and hold the right people accountable for your losses and injuries, working to secure the compensation to which you’re entitled. We have decades of experience helping people just like you. To schedule a free and confidential case review, simply call our office or submit our contact form today.