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Driver Identified In Paoli Historical Bridge Collapse
Updated December 27, 2015 1:32 PM | Filed under: Accident
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(PAOLI) - Police have identified the driver of a semi tractor-trailer that attempted to cross an iron bridge in Paoli on Christmas, causing the bridge to collapse, as 23-year-old Mary Lambright of Fredericksburg.

Police Police Chief Randy Sanders says Lambright was an inexperienced driver and had just left the Amish order about a year ago. She and her passenger, her 17-year-old female cousin, were not injured.

Lambright was arrested on a charge of reckless operation of a tractor-trailer, but was not taken to jail, but cited into court. She was also cited for disregarding a traffic control device, the signage on the bridge and traveling with an overweight load on a posted bridge.

Sanders says Lambright, an independent driver, was hauling more than 43,000 pounds of bottled water in a leased truck from Penske for Louisville Logistics. Police say she couldn't comprehend how much six tons was - the weight limit posted on the bridge. The tractor-trailer and load weighted more than 30 tons.

The bridge, spanning Lick Creek and dating back to 1880, is owned by the county even though it's on a town street.

According to police, Lambright was traveling on U.S. 150 East and was attempting to make a delivery at Walmart when she failed to turn north onto State Road 37. In an attempt to head north toward the store she turned north on South Gospel Street and then attempted to turn west onto Oak Street, but was unable to.

Lambright told police that she knew there was a parking lot north of South Gospel Street and thought she could turn the truck around in the lot and again make her way back to State Road 37. But there was equipment parked in the lot and she couldn't get turned around.

Lambright says she was uncomfortable backing up the semi and didn't think to call police or another driver for assistance so she attempted to cross the iron bridge.

Police say that Lambright was traveling more than 30 miles per hour in order to get the vehicle stuck that far on the bridge.

Once she started onto the bridge, the trailer got stuck, ripping about a third of the trailer top off. Then the weight of the vehicle made the bridge begin to collapse, pushing both sides of the bridge inward.

A witnesses, who saw the bridge begin collapsing, called police at 12:12 p.m.

Wilcox Wrecker Service from Salem brought two wreckers to remove the semi from the collapsed bridge. It took them until after 9 p.m. to remove the tractor-trailer.

The truck is being held pending an Indiana State Police inspection. Other crews helped remove any debris and unloaded the water from the semi. Two ambulances were also called to the scene in case anyone was injured while working the accident scene.

Paoli Fire and Rescue units assisted at the scene in addition to the Orange County Sheriff's Department, Paoli town employees and Hankins Corvette Sales, which provided a truck for helping to move the water the semi-trailer had been hauling.

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