May 17, 1995

One worker missing and two survive after bridge under construction collapses...

The Associated Press, Clifton, TN: Two workers survived but one East Tennessee man is missing after a bridge being built over the Tennessee River collapses in a mass of twisted steel Tuesday.

Divers organized a search for the missing man, whose safety belt was attached to the steel structure 100 feet above the water. One of the survivors said, "He rode it down and jumped as far as he could into the river," said Clifton Police Chief Richard Jerrolds. "It's just a twisted mass there."

A fourth man, Bill Dooley, was near the bridge in a boat and suffered a minor injury. Officials earlier said four men were on the bridge when it collapsed but said later that only three were on the portion that collapsed.

The missing man was identified as Bill Robinson of Athens, State Department of Transportation officials said. The identities of the

others were not immediately released. Those injured were not seriously hurt.

Sgt. Bryan Ray, the Clifton police officer who was first to arrive after the accident, said the men told him they saw the girders bow. He said one worker said he "hit water and his belt sunk him straight to the bottom. He took his belt and shoes off and come back to the top of water."

Mike McKinnon, Vice President of McKinnon Bridge Co., which is building the span, said the worker's safety belt was attached to the steel, so "there's probably no question he's down in the water with the steel."

The $9.9 million bridge, a few miles from Clifton and 90 miles southwest of Nashville, was to replace a ferry linking the Decatur County and Hardin County sides of the river. McKinnon said the missing man worked for a subcontractor, ABC Contractors, of LaVergne, TN.

Copyright © 1995 by Knoxville News-Sentinel.
Used with permission.