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Lambright Sentenced To 180 Days In Jail For Collapsing Historic Paoli Bridge
Updated April 13, 2017 9:57 AM | Filed under: Crime
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(PAOLI) - Mary Lambright was sentenced to 180 days in jail for driving a tractor-trail across the historic Paoli bridge causing it to collapse.

Lambright entered a blind plea of guilty to the reckless operation of a tractor-trailer; operating a vehicle over bridge, causeway or viaduct while weighing more than maximum weight; disregarding an official traffic control device; and operating a motor vehicle in violation of restriction in March.

Lambright drove the semi over Lick Creek on Christmas Day in 2015. The weight of the truck caused the bridge to collapse.

In court on Wednesday, Lambright apologized to everyone in Orange County saying that it was "a terrible mistake" and she never intended to cause the damage. Lambright said when she crossed the bridge that connects Lick Creek in downtown Paoli, she didn't realize her semi was too tall and too heavy for the bridge to support it.

Orange County Superior Court Judge R. Michael Cloud ordered Lambright to report to the jail at 8 a.m. April 19 to begin her sentence.

Judge Cloud considered home incarceration and community service. But added it would only "depreciate the seriousness of the crime" saying the act she committed was "reckless" and he couldn't "in good conscious" let her operate a vehicle.

An insurance settlement will pay the nearly $750,000 needed to rebuild the bridge. But Orange County will be responsible to pay around $2,000 for a re-inspection fee. Judge Cloud ordered Lambright to pay the inspection fee.

She will also pay $183 in court fees.

Officials say the semi was carrying 43,000 pounds of bottled water. Police say Lambright couldn't comprehend how much six tons was - the weight limit posted on the bridge. The tractor-trailer and load weighed more than 30 tons.

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 order 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. However, there was equipment parked in the lot and she could not get turned around.

Lambright said 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.

Crews are making repairs, which are expected to be finished in July. In October, the Orange County commissioners signed a contract with CLR Inc. to make the estimated $748,875 in repairs. The trucking company's insurance carrier, Progressive, will pay for the repairs. The insurance company will not pay the cost of repainting portions of the bridge. That cost, estimated at $39,975 and will be paid by the county.

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