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News >  Pacific NW

State files $17 million suit over Skagit bridge collapse

Rachel La Corte Associated Press

OLYMPIA – A lawsuit filed Monday by the Washington state Department of Transportation is seeking at least $17 million to recover costs related to the 2013 Skagit River Bridge collapse.

The lawsuit, filed in Skagit County Superior Court, names several parties as responsible: William Scott, the truck driver whose oversized truck hit the bridge; the driver’s employer, Mullen Trucking LP; the pilot car driver, Tammy Detray, and her company, G&T Crawlers; and the owner of the metal shed being transported, Saxon Energy Services Inc.

A section of the bridge fell into the water after Scott’s load hit the bridge in Mount Vernon, about 60 miles north of Seattle, in May 2013. Two other vehicles fell into the Skagit River, and three people were rescued with minor injuries.

The filing notes the vertical clearance pole mounted on Detray’s truck repeatedly struck the overhead bridge sway braces, but states because she was talking on a cellphone at the time, she didn’t relay that information to Scott.

The suit also states Scott should have known he had positioned his oversized load on the side of the bridge that has the least clearance.

“The sudden, unexpected and catastrophic collapse of the Skagit River Bridge caused by the defendants’ actions placed the lives of other motorists at or near the Skagit River Bridge in immediate jeopardy,” the lawsuit states.

In November, the Washington State Patrol issued a report on its final findings from the collapse, saying Scott hit 11 arced sway braces on the bridge during the accident that sent two cars into the river.

The report notes that Scott, who was driving the truck with the tall load for Mullen Trucking, was permitted to carry a load of no higher than 15 feet 9 inches. After the collapse, his truck was measured at 15 feet 11 inches, a detail that was previously made public during a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.

Scott was ticketed last May for negligent driving.

In July, the National Transportation Safety Board said that insufficient route planning, a distracted pilot driver and an inadequate permitting process by the state of Washington all played a part in the accident.

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