Morrison, IL Foot Bridge Collapse, Apr 1951


Eight Morrison Boy Scouts were injured Sunday at 5:30 p.m. when a pier supporting a swinging bridge over Rock Creek at the Morrison Country Club collapsed, dropping the boys some 12 feet to the bed of the creek.
RONNIE HANSEN, 12-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Hansen, apparently most seriously injured of the group, was thrown into the creek with his head under water. Another of the scouts, ARLYN RENKES, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Renkes, rescued the HANSEN boy and pulled him to the bank.
HANSEN suffered a compound fracture of the left thigh and a cracked knee cap.
LARY SIEH, 13, son of Mr. and Mrs. Max Sieh, was pinned in the debris by the bridge pier, which weighted according to witnesses, several tons. Freed only with difficulty, he was found to have suffered a fracture of his left leg and a severely wrenched knee. Mr. and Mrs. Sieh only Wednesday had received word of death in Korea, March 27 of another son, William J. Sieh, 19.
Others injured were JIM MacGILVRAY, 14, son of Mr. and Mrs. James MacGilvray, who suffered a fracture of his left arm near the shoulder, bruises on the right leg and a wrenched knee; BILL WESTPHAL, son of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Westphal, one knee sprained and the other severely wrenched; RONNIE GIVEN, son of Mr. and Mrs. Brooks Given, who was struck on the foot by the bridge cable and suffered a sprain of his left ankle; JOHN KIMMEL, son of Deputy Sheriff and Mrs. Boyd Kimmel, cut over right eye and left wrist injured; LESTER "BUTCH" KIMMEL, his brother, severe cut in lower lip and an injured leg; and BILLY SNYDER, son of Mrs. Orma Snyder, who was in considerable pain but whose injuries have not been determined.
All except SNYDER were removed to Morrison Community hospital by ambulance and private vehicles. SNYDER was taken to his home.
The injured youths were among a group of 23 Boy Scouts of Morrison Troop 91 who had been on a hike to Hickory Nut hill and were returning when the accident occurred. Several others were on the bridge when it collapsed, but escaped injury.
The water beneath the bridge is from two to two and one-half feet deep. Part of the bridge was under about six inches of water after its collapse.
The bridge span was 110 feet long. Some of the boys told their parents they had been playing and making the bridge sway just before the pier gave way.
One witness said one of the eyes in the large cable supporting the bridge came out. The bridge was extensively damaged.
The Scouts and their leaders, William Briggs, Charles Whistler and Robert Jamison, left on the hike at 1:30 p.m. They crossed the bridge safely shortly after starting their hike.
The leaders were a short distance behind the group when the accident occurred. The Scouts were to have been dismissed within a matter of minutes, after all had crossed the bridge. Several already had crossed safely.
The leaders expressed appreciation to all who aided in caring for and transporting the injured boys. One was carried about a half mile by stretcher from the scene of the accident.

Sterling Daily Gazette Illinois 1951-04-09