By Ashley Sanders
The Orange Leader
Dennis and Jamie Winegar of Houston were stuck in late rush-hour traffic when the Mississippi River bridge beneath them began to shake. Their nephew yelled, “It’s an earthquake!”
“Then we realized the bridge was collapsing,” Jamie Winegar said. “Boom, boom, boom, and we were just dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping.”
Behind the wheel, Dennis Winegar fought to keep the family’s Chrysler 300M under control.
“I slammed on my brakes and saw something in front of me disappear and then my car pointed straight down and we fell.” He estimated they dropped about 50 feet, landing on a smaller car below them.
Frightening images and harrowing tales are continuing to come to light in the wake of Wednesday’s tragic collapse of the 1-35W overpass in Minneapolis, Minn. Along with those images and stories like the Winegars comes the question, could something like this happen in Southeast Texas?
According to Texas Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Marc Shepherd, the answer is no.
“We do rigorous inspections twice a year on all of our bridges,” Shepherd said. “If we find anything that appears it could pose a threat to public welfare, we will shut down a bridge.”
Shepherd said residents should feel safe crossing the 1,400 bridges TxDot oversees in the area’s local eight county district — even the Rainbow Bridge, which was constructed in 1938.
“We send a team of people to inspect the Rainbow and Veterans’ Bridges,” Shepherd said of the structures connecting Bridge City to Port Arthur. “The Rainbow Bridge was reworked in the late 1990s and we continue to maintain safety guidelines. We will never hold off on shutting down a bridge we deem to be dangerous.”
As investigators continued Thursday morning to search for the cause of the collapse and first responders kept up efforts to recover victims from the murky Mississippi waters, the White House released a statement criticizing the oversight of recent inspection findings of the I35 bridge.
By Ashley Sanders
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Vidor Rotary speaker
Orange County Emergency Services District 1 Fire Chief Bryant Champagne spoke the Vidor Rotary Club on Monday, March 19, about the work the OCESD1 does, not only fighting fires but responding to accidents and teaching fire safety. The Vidor Rotary Club meets on Mondays at noon, upstairs at Capital One Bank in Vidor. The club will hold its annual scholarship breakfast from 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. on Friday, April 20 at Casa Ole in Vidor. Tickets are $10 and breakfast includes tortillas, eggs, chorizo sausage, fruit, beans, potatoes, and a drink. The club will receive 80 percent of the day’s take to provide scholarships for graduating seniors. For more information or tickets, call club president Sally Andrews at 409-651-8390.
Vidor ACE program a success
Vidor ACE afterschool program hosted George Hartsfield of Buckner’s on Tuesday, March 6 at the monthly Terrific Tuesday family night program. Parents heard from Hartsfield about how to handle problems in the family as well as services the STAR program offers to aid families.
Woman dies after her vehicle collides into semi truck
A two vehicle accident at 3:45 a.m. Wednesday morning on Interstate 10 near Rose City resulted in one driver being killed and one driver being transported to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital in Beaumont, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety press release.
Gulf of Mexico shrimp season opens July 15
The Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season for both state and federal waters will open 30 minutes after sunset Thursday, July 15.
- West Orange resident killed while cutting limbs
- Tony Houseman dies at 73 Tony Houseman, an area developer and business owner, died Friday at the age of 73. Services are pending at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange.
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