Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Canadian trucker centre of bridge-collapse inquiry

'He didn't plow into anything,' says wife

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A person looks from the bank of the Skagit River across to the collapsed bridge.

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A person looks from the bank of the Skagit River across to the collapsed bridge.

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. -- The wife of a Canadian trucker linked to a dramatic bridge collapse in Washington state said her husband had all the permits he needed and doesn't believe he is responsible for bringing the structure down.

Cynthia Scott said she spoke with her husband, Bill Scott, right after he saw the Interstate 5 bridge crash into the Skagit River about 7.5 metres below.

"He looked in the mirrors and it just dropped out of sight," she said Friday from the couple's home near Spruce Grove, Alta., just west of Edmonton.

"They're saying in the news that he plowed into the (bridge) and I'm going, 'No, he didn't plow into anything.' "

The Washington State Patrol has confirmed the truck hit a support girder on the bridge Thursday night. That sent part of the span thundering into the river below. Sgt. Kirk Rudeen said the collision appears to have led to the collapse, which took two vehicles with it. Three people were rescued from the waters and were recovering Friday.

The company Scott was driving for, Mullen Trucking, said it is sending investigators to the scene. Spokesman Ed Scherbinski said the truck was hauling a piece of drilling equipment called a casing shed that is "basically just an empty, oversized shipping container."

The Washington state Department of Transportation had approved the company's plan to drive across the bridge along Interstate 5 to Vancouver, Wash., Scherbinski said.

Cynthia Scott said a special car equipped with poles, typically 11/2 metres higher than the highest point of a load, had travelled the truck's route beforehand. She said there was a small ding in one of the front corners of the load -- not what you would expect if a truck had hit hard enough to bring a bridge down.

The bridge was inspected twice last year and repairs were made, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said.

Scott, 41, is sleeping in a hotel while his truck is impounded, his wife said. He has driven truck for 20 years, hauling specialized loads for more than 10.

"He gets safety awards, safety bonuses just for being so anal for doing all these checks, for hiring the right pilot cars and pole cars," his wife said.

-- The Canadian Press, with files from The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 25, 2013 A27

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