East Chicago, IN Bridge Ramp Collapse, Apr 1982
12 WORKERS DIE IN COLLAPSE OF UNFINISHED BRIDGE RAMP.
East Chicago, Ind., April 15. - Two sections of an unfinished bridge crashed 50 feet to the banks of an industrial canal here today, killing 12 construction workers.
Seventeen workers, including some who had been pinned under concrete blocks and steel girders, were hospitalized with "a variety of serious crushing injuries," said William Schenck, assistant administrator at St. Catherine's Hospital, where most of the injured were taken.
The steel and concrete road sections gave way shortly before 11 A.M. as workers poured concrete. After the accident, part of one fallen section hung by threads of steel cable to the rest of the structure.
Officials of the Superior Construction Company and Midwest Steel Erection Company Inc., whose crews were working at the site, said they had no immediate explanation for the accident.
"There were six or seven guys trapped up there," said Oscar Garza, a firefighter who arrived just as the second span buckled and collapsed. "There was nothing they could do, nowhere to go. They just went down with the rest of the rubble."
Rescuers worked all afternoon to free the trapped workers, cutting through a tangled mass of wire cables and using cranes to lift slabs of concrete.
East Chicago, Ind., April 15 (AP) - A check of two hospitals showed that 17 workers from the bridge collapse had been brought in for treatment.
Dr. Albert T. Willardo, the Lake County coroner, said 12 men had died. "To the best of my knowledge all of the missing have been accounted for," Dr. Willardo said, although a search was to continue Friday.
One of the dead workers was trapped head down in a pillar of concrete that had hardened since the span fell, the coroner said. The bridge, called the Cline Avenue Extension, was being built to link steel mills on the Lake Michigan shore with the city of East Chicago. Almost 75 construction workers were on or under the free-standing bridge-work when it gave way, said Police Chief L. R. Stiglich of East Chicago.
"Evidently they were pouring concrete on one of the spans when it collapsed," said Gene Hallock, director of the Indiana Department of Highways. "Presumably what fell was the false work, the scaffolding
that holds up the forms for the concrete."
Conrad Swalwell, a carpenter who was working next to the bridge at the time, said workers "were pouring concrete and all of a sudden the first section just buckled down."
"Then about three minutes later you heard a big boom and the second section went down," Mr. Swalwell said. "I saw three guys go with it. It was like slow motion. It just catapulted those guys through the air."
The New York Times New York 1982-04-16
Listing of the Fatalities:
JOHN CHESTER, 63.
ROBERT KASER, 35.
BILLY BRICKER, 44.
ROY GOURLEY, 58.
HAROLD CARLSON, 49.
FRED KRIEG, SR.
Listing of the Injured:
HARRY BUNKOWIST, 30, stable.
CHARLES CALHOUN, 44, stable.
LOUIS CLOUTIER, 39, stable.
DON HANFT, 23, stable.
FRED TORRIJAS, 22, stable.
FELIX SCHACKI, 61, stable.
ROBERT PEGG, 25, critical.
HAROLD WARREN, 29, critical.
DONALD KETCHUM, 26, serious.
DON BRICKER, stable.
ARTIE VAZQUEZ, 30, released.
DAVID NELSON, 28, stable.
WILLIE NEWMAN, 32, critical.
KEVN RILEY, 21, critical.
LLOYD TECK, released.
MARK MAYS, 25, critical.