Pasadena, CA Freeway Bridge Collapses, Oct 1972


Pasadena (AP) -- The bodies of three workmen entombed in a 100-ton mass of concrete were found today by rescue workers with jackhammers who ripped through debris of a fallen 100-foot-high freeway bridge section.
Three other workmen were killed when the building materials plummeted 100 feet to the ground yesterday, carrying dozens of workers with it.
Of the 21 injured, six were listed in critical condition.
A search by more than 200 men went on throughout the night despite the threat that other parts of the bridge might collapse on them.
A spokesman for the Pasadena Police Department said the bodies of the final two victims were found in the concrete after crews using jack-hammers pounded for more than an hour to free the body of one of the victims, JESUS QUINONOS.
The last two men found were identified as RICHARD CALLEROS of Santa Ana and FRANK SCHARF of Uplands.
The three men found dead earlier were identified as ROBERT J. QUEENAN of Alhambra; HECTOR GONZALEZ of Pico Rivera and JAMES E. GLASS of Los Angeles.
Nick Salerino, business agent of the Cement Finishers Union, said the bridge had been built too hastily. He discounted rumors that an earth tremor or piece of equipment hitting a scaffold had caused the collapse.
Salerino said this was the fourth bridge in several years to collapse while under construction by Polich-Benedict Co. of Rosemead, one of three contractors building the bridge.
Richard Malcolm, manager of Polich-Benedict, said in addition to the Pasadena bridge, one collapsed while Polich-Benedict was working on it on the San Bernardino Freeway and another was one of several that fell during the San Fernando Valley earthquake in 1971. He said no others had fallen.
He also said his company was working according to a schedule set up by the state, and denied the bridge was being built too fast.
Malcolm said Polich-Benedict would close down all its bridge projects to inspect them. He said this was required in all such accidents by the state Department of Industrial Safety.
Concrete was being poured into wooden forms when the center section of the north side of the bridge gave way, cascading into the ravine about two miles north of the Rose Bowl. The framework of the south side of the giant bridge, poured earlier, remained intact.
JIMMY FULTZ, 45, workman who was standing on an adjacent span when the north side collapsed, said, "I heard it go 'whoom.' I ran back from where I was working. Those guys working on the deck, in the center had no chance. I saw some of them go down with it all."
The bridge collapse was the latest in a series of accidents to plague California's freeway and highway building program. At least six other highway structures have collapsed in the last two years.
In Sacramento two months ago, one workman was killed and 10 others were injured when steel beams supporting concrete forms of a highway overpass collapsed. At least four other road structures overpass collapsed.
Officials ordered immediate investigation by the Federal Highway Administration, the Division of Highways and Freeway Contractors of San Bernardino, the consturction consortium.
Cause of the collapse was not immediately determined, but police said it appeared that metal beams supporting the concrete forms on the north side failed to hold the additional weight when the concrete was poured.
The bridge, which was more than 500 feet long, was part of a new $9 million, 1.2-mile section of the Foothill Freeway skirting Pasadena.

Oakland Tribune California 1972-10-18