NTSB to release final report on deadly bridge collapse

Saturday, August 28th 2004, 9:37 am
By: News On 6

MUSKOGEE, Okla. (AP) _ The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a public board meeting in Washington, D.C., next week to discuss its final report on the deadly Interstate 40 bridge collapse near Webbers Falls.

``The basic report that will include the probable cause, recommendations, any of the conclusions and a summary of the accident will be released Tuesday, shortly after the meeting,'' NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said.

The entire report won't be released for a few weeks, Holloway told the Muskogee Phoenix and Times Democrat.

It's been more than two years since a towboat pushing two empty barges crashed into one of the bridge's piers, causing a 500-foot section of the span to collapse and sending eight passenger vehicles and three tractor-trailer rigs into the Arkansas River below.

A 3-year-old Arkansas girl and residents from as far away as Oregon and Virginia were among the 14 people who lost their lives on May 26, 2002. Five others were injured but survived.

Towboat pilot William Joe Dedmon was suffering from a lack of sleep when the accident occurred, a U.S. Coast Guard report concluded.

Dedmon and his employer, Magnolia Marine Transport Co., violated statutes that dictate how many hours an employee is allowed to work in a day, the Coast Guard report also said.

Dedmon's attorneys contend Dedmon has a heart condition and suffered a blackout as a result of that condition. He surrendered his pilot's license and hasn't worked since the accident.