The Coast Guard is currently investigating the reasons why a barge crashed in to the top of the Brooks Bridge this last Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. near Fort Walton Beach. The barge was carrying a crane when it crashed into the concrete barrier wall on the west side of the Brooks Bridge, breaking the water line that ran under the sidewalk. Thankfully, no one was hurt and the vehicles that were crossing the bridge at that time were not damaged.
The Coast Guard is not currently releasing the names of the companies that own the tugs or the names of their operators until the investigation is fully complete. When a barge accident like this occurs, the investigation process can take two to three months because of intensive examinations that take place. Investigators will review every minute detail of the accident, including everything from the winds on the Santa Rosa Sound to the health of the tugboat operators who were in control of the bridge. The questions of: who, what, when, where, why and how, must all be answered before an investigation can be completed.
This accident had some effect on residents and businesses on Okaloosa Island, who remained under a boil water notice Thursday night until repairs were completed on the water line that was ruptured during the accident. The bridge was also closed after the crash and all four lanes were not reopened until about 6 a.m. on Thursday morning. As is the case with any type of accident, especially water-related accidents, the investigators are looking for any human error that may have contributed to the accident.
Barge, tugboat, and towboat operators must follow certain safety practices that were established for their industry, such as maintaining certain work-rest periods and keeping a vessel log. Barge workers are also responsible for the machinery and maintenance of the barge to some extent, and a failure to follow industry standards and safety practices may result in losing their job. If the barge operator is found to be at fault for this recent accident, the investigators will look at his license, where he obtained it, and how long he’s had it. If he is found to be guilty, the tug operator could lose his license. It is also uncertain whether the tugboat’s company has any responsibility in the accident, and a damage estimate for the bridge is not yet available.
All in all, someone will be held liable for the damages caused by this barge accident. This is a common scenario in personal injury cases, and our team of Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers can help you seek justice and compensation if you have been injured in a serious accident. Call today to learn more about personal injury law and your rights as an injury victim.