(WASHINGTON) — Five people were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after a pedestrian bridge that was in “poor condition” collapsed onto a busy Washington, D.C., highway, officials said.
The incident occurred just before noon Wednesday on DC-295 near Polk Street. The collapse appears to have been caused by a collision, D.C. Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Chris Geldart said during a press briefing Wednesday afternoon.
Based on the preliminary investigation, a truck carrying diesel fuel may have collided with the bridge, causing it to separate from its mooring, he said. Multiple cars were then involved in the crash, with five people in those cars transported to local hospitals, he said.
“Everything we see on the accident scene right now leads to this being a collision pulling the bridge off its mooring,” said Geldart, who noted they were “very lucky” there weren’t any serious injuries.
Images following the collapse showed a truck crushed under the bridge, which appeared to have completely detached from a staircase and platform at one end. Metal fencing and other debris covered DC-295, which is one of the main highways in the city.
The crash investigation and bridge removal could continue through Thursday, with traffic on the highway halted in both directions, Geldart said. Fire department responders were able to stop a diesel fuel leak.
Officials initially said there were no structural concerns with the bridge when it was last inspected in February. But Geldart later issued a statement obtained by ABC News that they had “misstated the condition” of the bridge. A May 25 inspection report gave the bridge a rating of “poor condition,” prompting a plan to replace the bridge, he said.
The bridge still had “good structural integrity,” and the rating was due to the decking, the part of the bridge which people walk over, Geldart said during a press briefing Wednesday night. The bridge is now believed to have collapsed due to a collision with the truck’s boom, which had not been lowered after the driver left a nearby construction yard, he said.
Officials did not yet have an estimate on when the highway could reopen, or how long it would take to rebuild the bridge.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged commuters to follow traffic updates, especially as rush hour was approaching.
“We’re going to ask DC residents and all commuters to pay close attention to our [DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency] alerts as well as all the local broadcasts, to be mindful of how you can avoid this area,” Bowser said during Wednesday afternoon’s briefing. “Please pay close attention to avoid this area.”
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