Charleston, SC Ships Hits Long Bridge, Feb 1946
DISABLING BY SHIP OF COOPER BRIDGE PROBED.
Charleston, Feb. 25 - (AP) - An official investigation is being conducted today into what has been described as an "act of God" accident which yesterday disabled the two-mile long Cooper River Bridge.
A line squall traveling straight across South Carolina hit Charleston at 3:59 o'clock yesterday afternoon and caused a 10,000-ton steamer, the Nicaragua Victory, to drag anchor and smash its nose against the eastern approach of the long span.
The investigation which is being conducted by the steamboat inspection service of the United States Coast Guard is to determine whether the accident involved any negligence on the part of the ship's crew. The steamer cut loose from its anchor and drifted aimlessly for a distance of about 700 yards before it rammed the bridge and broke the span halting all traffic emanating from Charleston to the east, including Mount Pleasant, Fort Moultrie, Sullivan's Island and to other communities.
A 100-yard section of concrete and steel caved in by the force of the blow and authorities today were also investigating the possibility that one car or possibly two had plunged through the gap in the bridge.
The Navy and Coast Guard prepared to send divers and drag the area to check the possibility.
Isaac D. Peek, highway commissioner for the ninth judicial circuit, this morning estimated that a minimum of from two to three months would be required to repair the 300-foot break in the Cooper River Bridge.
Mr. Peek was awaiting the arrival of highway engineers from Columbia.
The bridge was purchased by the state highway department from Charleston county last year.
All telephone communication between Charleston and the communities of Mount Pleasant, Fort Moultrie, Sullivan's Island and other communities was out of order and traffic was routed via Moncks Corner involving an 80-mile trip though the actual distance via the bridge is five miles.
The Navy and Coast Guard were using their craft to convey people in an emergency status across the river.
The crash was attributed to strong outgoing tides and a 50-to-60 miles an hour gust of wind, which swung the stern of the ship into supports of the bridge approach. Crewmen of the vessel watched helplessly as the Nicaragua crashed into the big structure and went around, after being anchored in nearby Wando River.
The giant structure, now known officially as the John P. Grace Memorial bridge, had the highest clearance - 150 feet - of any cantilever type bridge in the world at the time of the construction in 1929.
Index Journal Greenwood South Carolina 1946-02-25
One car, a green Oldsmobile, plunged into the river killing 5 members of one family. They were:
EVELYN LAWSON, his wife.
ROSE LAWSON, Elmer's mother.
ROBERT LAWSON, 7-years-old, their son.
DIANA LAWSON, 3-years-old, their daughter.