An investigation is under way to find out what caused a tractor-trailer to drive off the side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT) and plunge deep into the waters Thursday afternoon. Emergency responders managed to pull the 47-year-old driver of the truck from the bay, but he later died on the way to the hospital.
According to officials, the driver was traveling on the southbound side of the CBBT when the truck went over the side. A Navy crew was in the area training and responded to calls from police. Media reports say that the driver was standing on top of the submerged truck and was hoisted into a Navy helicopter. At the time of the accident, the water temperature was reported to be approximately 45 degrees, and waves were reaching heights of between five and seven feet.
Level 2 Wind Restriction
It is unclear at this time what caused the tractor-trailer to go over the side. Earlier in the day, bridge officials had issued a Level 2 wind restriction because winds had measured in excess of 47 mph. During a Level 2 restriction, there are many types of vehicles that are not allowed to cross the bridge, including motorcycles, campers, house trailers, vehicles with exterior cargo, and vans. Tractor trailers must have a gross weight of 30,000 pounds in addition to the weight of the truck itself.
One tractor-trailer driver who had been cleared to cross the bridge said he decided to pull over about a mile before the CBBT because he felt his truck was still too light and was concerned that the winds would push it. He described how it feels to cross the bridge during times of strong winds, saying that the winds will push the vehicles to the left or the right and that you can physically feel the trucks move in the direction of the winds.
Wrongful Death Claim
There are many questions that need to be answered in this tragic accident. What exactly caused the truck to go off the side of the bridge and into the frigid waters below? Was there a mechanical failure in the truck or did the heavy winds play a factor in the accident? Should the victim’s tractor-trailer actually have been allowed to cross the bridge given the Level 2 restrictions?
Regardless of what direction this investigation goes in, the family of the driver who was killed should contact a Virginia wrongful death attorney. It has been reported that he was a husband and father. Although no amount of money can ever make up for the death of a loved one, the victim’s family may now be facing overwhelming financial losses, as well as the emotional loss of losing a family member.