Truck Driver Faces Minor Charges For Crushing Historic Bridgeby Jana Ritter - Published: 12/30/2015
The truck driver who caused Indiana’s historic Paoli Bridge to collapse is now facing charges, but many feel they aren’t severe enough for the damage caused. The incident occurred on Christmas day in southern Indiana when Mary Lambright attempted to cross the bridge hauling a 53-foot trailer reportedly carrying about 43,000 pounds of bottled water, nearly six times the posted weight limit. The bridge also reportedly had a sign warning, “no semis allowed.”
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According to Paoli Police Chief, Randy Sanders, Lambright is an inexperienced driver who had left her Amish roots only about a year ago and earned her CDL last May, then started driving Louisville Logistics. Following the crash, when police had informed her the weight of the vehicle was nearly 30 tons, Lambright said that she did in fact see the weight limit and “no semis” sign but that she did not know “how many pounds six tons was.” She also told police that her intention was to park the semi in the Paoli Walmart parking lot but she had missed her exit and after several unsuccessful attempts to turn the big rig around, she decided to attempt to cross the Paoli Bridge instead. She also said that once she made the decision to cross the bridge, she was uncomfortable backing the trailer up and continued to cross. While the investigation remains on going, police have so far charged Lambright with three different traffic infractions including reckless driving of a commercial vehicle. The maximum penalty for the reckless driving charge would be a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail.
However, many feel that the careless mistake cost the town a historic bridge with sentimental value and that Lambright should face heavier punishment. Ed Scott witnessed the crash and told local media that he literally cried when he saw what had happened. It took first responders several hours to unload the thousands of bottles of water before they could remove the tractor-trailer from the bridge. It was then towed into the custody of the Indiana State Police where it is now being inspected by investigators. The bridge will be closed for several weeks and it will likely be months before any rebuilding of the landmark begins.
Fortunately, nobody was injured in the accident and Lambright and her passenger (her 17-year-old cousin) were able to exit the semi truck unharmed.