Pilot car driver was 'horrified' by Skagit bridge collapse

Pilot car driver was 'horrified' by Skagit bridge collapse

Credit: WSDOT

Crews remove a piece of the Interstate 5 bridge from the Skagit River June 5, 2013. The bridge collapsed into the river on May 23, 2013, after being struck by an oversized load.

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on June 5, 2013 at 6:32 PM

The pilot car driver who led the semi truck that struck the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River on May 23 released a statement Wednesday that she was cooperating with officials investigating the incident.

"I take my job and the responsibilities of my job very seriously. I have never been involved in any sort of incident like what happened on the 23rd," said Tammy DeTray, the pilot car driver. "I was horrified when I saw what had happened."
 
DeTray said she met with Washington State Patrol detectives and answered questions. She also cooperated with the National Transportation Safety Board during their investigation and demonstrated that she had an indicator pole set to identify vertical clearance obstacles in compliance with regulations for pilot cars.

"While I was talking with my husband using a hands-free device on a work-related matter at the time, I was in complete compliance with the law in doing so," DeTray said. "At no time did the pole touch the bridge, and had it, I would have radioed that to the driver of the truck so that he could take the appropriate action."

DeTray's statement followed a National Transportation Safety Board report on Wednesday afternoon that announced it had concluded work at the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River, but it was continuing to investigate the incident.

NTSB officials interviewed the driver of the pilot vehicle on Monday in Seattle about events leading up to the bridge's collapse. Investigators did not flag anything unusual in her account of her activities 72 hours before the incident.

NTSB investigators also examined, measured and photographed the pilot vehicle on Monday and noted that it had a fiberglass measuring pole mounted on the front to identify vertical clearance obstacles.

Additionally, NTSB said it was investigating reports that a second tractor-trailer combination unit was on the bridge before it collapsed on May 23.

Investigators are searching for the driver of the second vehicle to gather more information related to the bridge's collapse. Washington State Patrol detectives said on Tuesday that they are also looking for the driver.

Officials have removed all bridge structure components of interest from the river and are now documenting them. The NTSB may still conduct interviews, but has finished working at the bridge site.

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