Sunday, October 25, 2015

"Some are calling it miraculous"

The Delaware River divides the states of Pennsylvania and New York. Many bridges span the river, but one of the oldest was built in 1904. Crossing from Glen Spey, NY, to Pond Eddy, PA, it has just one narrow lane and a weight limit of only seven tons. Here's the view from the Pennsylvania side. "You can jump on it and feel it shake," says PennDOT spokesman James May, admitting it's tough to drive a car across at 10 miles per hour.
                                                                                                                                      PennDOT Photos
The stop sign (visible across the bridge on the New York side) marks busy Rt. 97, which runs along the river's edge. The hill you see descending toward the bridge is NY 41. Now picture this. Around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, Bill Baldwin, who hasn't had an accident in 20 years, was driving a three-axle dump truck filled with sand down the hill in the distance. Before he could stop and turn onto Rt. 97, his brakes failed. As his 35 ton truck gained momentum down the hill without brakes, Baldwin thought fast. If he swerved onto Rt. 97, his truck would roll off the road into the river. Or, he could try crossing the fragile, decaying bridge. He chose the bridge, but as his truck accelerated through the intersection at 45 miles per hour, it rolled up the slight grade to the bridge and went airborn! Baldwin landed the 8-wheeler (all 35 tons of it) in the center of the wooden deck and steered dead center all the way across. At the end where this photo was taken, traffic must turn right or left, so he veered right and flipped the truck onto its driver's side against an embankment. Then he crawled out the passenger door without a scratch.

"There was no stopping," said Baldwin. "I didn't know what was going to happen."

This guy's is a real hero," said May. "He averted any real tragedy." No wonder some folks are calling it a miracle.

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