They have determined that the truck was two inches above the legal height requirement. The truck was only permitted to carry a load of 15 feet, 9 inches high, but the investigators found the load measured 15 feet, 11 inches after the collision. This size discrepancy resulted in the truck striking 11 of the bridge’s overhead sway braces as it crossed.
As a result of the collision, two vehicles dropped into the river. Fortunately, the occupants were all rescued and have recovered from their injuries.
The detectives also determined that the pilot car was carrying a pole that hit the bridge, which was supposed to trigger a warning to the truck driver. However, it’s still the truck driver’s legal responsibility to be safely transporting their cargo. The truck was following the pilot car about 350 feet behind, and only took 4 seconds to strike the bridge after the pilot car’s pole did.
The truck driver, William D.W. Scott with Mullen Trucking of Alberta, Canada, was cited by the Washington State Patrol for negligent driving in the second degree. The traffic infraction carries a fine of $550, a modest penalty for the damage incurred, and the physical and mental harm experienced by the other vehicle occupants.
The report came to the conclusion that Mr. Scott should have moved to the center lane of the bridge to avoid striking its overhead sway. The driver told federal investigators a truck heading the other way made it difficult for him to move to the center of the bridge.
While a report issued by the National Transportation Safety board over the summer also placed blame on the truck for the bridge’s collapse, it also stated the Washington State Department of Transportation was at fault due to system deficiencies that should be guarding against hazards presented by oversized loads on state roadways.