Bridge Collapses in Oklahoma
May 26, 2002 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Bridge Collapses in Oklahoma A barge collides with the I-40 bridge at 7:30 am this morning (CDT), sending 9 vehicles and 3 trucks plummeting 62 feet to the river below.
posted by somethingotherthan (22 comments total)
It has been speculated that the captain of the barge had a sudden seizure, causing him to ram into the bridge. I have done a lot of driving in my time, and I can't imagine not being able to stop in time and plunging over a ragged edge. At least 5 people were injured, and authorities do not want to estimate the number of fatalities.
posted by somethingotherthan at 2:53 PM on May 26, 2002

That's a chilling photograph. Disaster shots, especially those of bridge collapses(we had a big one on i-95 up here, when I was a kid) always make me realize just ho fragile even the most gigantic human endeavors are.
posted by jonmc at 3:01 PM on May 26, 2002

who needs terrorists and suicide bombers when we have accidents?
posted by 10sball at 3:05 PM on May 26, 2002

My thoughts exactly. This is gruesome.
posted by donkeyschlong at 3:45 PM on May 26, 2002

The unspoken assumption of the newsmedia when they run these gruesome images is taht we'll be thinking:

Was it Al Queada?

Which is disgusting, at base, because terrorism is partly about inflicting damage, but mostly about theatrics, and the media is playing straight into those theatrics.

Why Journalists are more beloved than Lawyers or Tax men still eludes me.
posted by swerdloff at 4:28 PM on May 26, 2002

Oh. Blame the media. That makes sense.

It didn't cross my mind that this was anything but a horrible accident until I saw your post, swerdloff. And if the journalists you loathe stopped doing their jobs, you'd be online screaming about your right to know.
posted by swerve at 5:37 PM on May 26, 2002

Barges cause a lot of fatalities. Mostly from small boats running into them. Barges operate at night and dont have lights (for practical purposes if youve seen barges youd know how low-tech they are) rather there is a tower of lights on the tugboat that blink a certain sequence that tell you how many barges are in front. Of course pleasure boaters dont know this and they see the lights on the tugboat but not the barges and go slamming into them at night. Barges also run into bridges.
posted by stbalbach at 6:38 PM on May 26, 2002

These things do happen, and they're tragic and scary when they do.

People are still especially sensitive from 9/11, and even more so given the recent non-specific "threats," so I can't blame them for jumping to whatever conclusions help them make sense of the chaos that comes from living in such a highly industrialized existence.
posted by pudders at 6:54 PM on May 26, 2002

stbalbach, and what do you think of that?

I wasn't aware of the no-barge-barge lights, but driving at night, it seems like the hardest vehicles to see are often the largest.

The 18 wheelers have little tiny round (and dim) brake lights on the trailers and the dump trucks are often just a big black steel wall with the brake lights mostly obscured by asphalt and grime.

But then, the highway system (and waterways) mostly exist for commerce right? Not pleasure boaters/drivers. Whose paying for what?
posted by squinky at 7:24 PM on May 26, 2002

Corpses finding diver, what a job. I always get images when this sort of accident happen. Diving is hard enough altogether, how the hell can you bare that?
posted by kush at 8:06 PM on May 26, 2002

This is horribly sad, and personal as well - I drove over that bridge maybe a hundred times. My family for years had a place at Lake Tenkiller, up where the Illinois River (different river) was dammed to create the lake. The next town after Webbers Falls is Gore, Oklahoma - there's plenty of jokes, but none are appropriate at the moment. Both towns are "poke-and-plum" towns - poke your head out the window, and you're plum out of town. Apart from the tragic loss of life, I'm sure the economic impact from the (accidental) destruction of the bridge will be devastating as well. My sympathies and sorrows to all in the area, and all those affected.
posted by yhbc at 8:56 PM on May 26, 2002

Actually, right now, traffic is being routed up old US highways through both Gore and Webbers Falls, if the map I saw on the local news earlier today was correct. Economic impact in the communities may increase, though not in a way anyone would want. It's commercial transportation that will suffer the most as a section of I-40 is out for who knows how long.
posted by mdeatherage at 9:35 PM on May 26, 2002

i don't think you should jump on swerdloff, swerve. one of the first reports from cnn this morning said, "at this time it appears it was an accident". until i read THAT, it didn't cross my mind that this was anything but a horrible accident, swerve.
posted by centrs at 10:12 PM on May 26, 2002

The unspoken assumption of the newsmedia when they run these gruesome images is that we'll be thinking: Was it Al Qaeda?

Which is disgusting, at base, because terrorism is . . . mostly about theatrics, and the media is playing straight into those theatrics.

swerdloff, are you kidding? Where on EARTH do you get that there's an "unspoken assumption" behind those pictures?

An apartment building in LA burned down the other day. A crowd of teenagers in New Orleans killed another teenager. A 747 broke up in midair over Taiwan. A barge hit a bridge which then collapsed.

Are you seriously suggesting that the "unspoken assumption" behind coverage of these sad events is that the public should wonder if it's terrorism? What about news coverage of other accidents/disasters that happened before al-Qaeda made it onto the national radar?

News organizations definitely use gruesome stories to attract ratings/circulation. They do this for a reason: it works. In large part, people want to read about this kind of thing. And, I think that all of the examples I cited above are legitimate news stories that should be covered. So are terroristic acts. (If your news diet consisted exclusively of so-called "good news", you'd be woefully ill-informed about the world around you.)

Besides, you saw the pictures -- you evidently clicked on the link. If you didn't want to find out more, why did you do so? Or was it the picture itself that offended you? You seem to despise journalism, yet you are a consumer of it

Why Journalists are more beloved than Lawyers or Tax men still eludes me.

They are? (Their jobs are certainly more dangerous...)

Sorry for the super-lengthy post. But it pushes my buttons when people attack "the media" or "journalists"...especially when the argument doesn't seem that well-reasoned. Journalism has always had its excesses. I'm not an apologist for them. But I think that a free press is much more of a good thing than the lack thereof.
posted by Vidiot at 10:30 PM on May 26, 2002

centrs: good point. My personal inclination is that the CNN anchor (or writer, or whoever orginated the report you saw) was probably just trying to be fair and not jump to any conclusions. (Disclosure: I work for CNN, though I didn't have anything to do with those early reports.)

It *is* interesting, though, that the anchor or writer or whoever felt the need to make the point. (And, I can envision lots of scenarios in which it wasn't an accident but wasn't terrorism either.)
posted by Vidiot at 10:37 PM on May 26, 2002

stbalbach, and what do you think of that? I wasn't aware of the no-barge-barge lights

Its somthing you learn in a boater safety class. Most of the light systems on the waterways are from the 1930s when everything was electrified and is IMO way behind the technology curve. But once you learn it it works. Just could be better/safer.
posted by stbalbach at 5:12 AM on May 27, 2002

CNN is an entertainment channel.
posted by stbalbach at 5:24 AM on May 27, 2002

More so than the other networks?
posted by Vidiot at 10:52 AM on May 27, 2002

posted by stbalbach at 5:15 AM on May 28, 2002

We can all read the paper.
posted by {savg*pncl} at 7:23 PM on May 28, 2002

The death toll is now up to 13, if we can pull away from media critique for a moment. None of them are my father, who I spoke to just a while ago. Apparently, even though the news was all over CNN as soon as it happened, none of the hard-hitting Oklahoma TV stations had the story until Sunday afternoon (aagh! Media critique-creep!)

Here's a different angle - this was clearly not terrorism, but it sure was a good lesson in how to do it. Who knew a barge could bring down a bridge? I didn't - and it sounds like the experts (who had given the bridge passing marks for soundness and strength) didn't either.
posted by yhbc at 8:26 PM on May 28, 2002

I don't think that it's a secret that an out of control, fully loaded barge (or any heavy object on a waterway) could bring down a bridge. I mean, bridges are not indestructable, and a fully loaded barge represents thousands of gross tons. Even at a low rate of speed, that's a great deal of force hitting the structure at a point which is not really intneded to withstand that amount of force from that direction. Bridges are designed to hold weight from atop, not slamming force from alongside.

Or maybe living in a city of three rivers, many, many, many bridges with even more boats and barges, makes one aware of the inate danger of an unexpected meeting of a boat and bridge pier.
posted by Dreama at 7:26 AM on May 29, 2002

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