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Sunday, February 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Multiple workers presumed dead when framework collapses during bridge construction

From our archive,

100 years ago

Tragedy struck at the Post Street bridge construction project when the “falsework” – temporary framework – collapsed, sending up to 30 workers into the icy torrent.

Some were swept over the falls. Others were caught in whirlpools. Three men were missing and believed dead after “an unsuccessful attempt to pull them from beneath the wreckage,” after which “a mass of timber swept over them.”

Police, firemen and bystanders frantically pulled workers out of the swirling waters. The firemen threw a rope across the river to aid in hauling men out. Bridge workmen “laid flat on their faces in the partially submerged frame work to extricate their fellow employees.”

More than a dozen of the rescued men were injured, some seriously. Many had broken bones from the collapsing scaffolding and concrete, and others were suffering from their time in the water. Exact casualty figures were hard to come by, because authorities were still trying to determine who was on the bridge at the time, and who was still missing.

“The first I knew was a terrific roar behind me,” said a worker who was working on another part of the bridge. “Looking around, I saw that the center of the bridge had collapsed, with men tumbling and falling all around. I don’t know how the structure collapsed.”

The project superintendent, Dave Cullen, was among the missing and believed dead.

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1788: Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

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