The old iron bridge on South Gospel Street in Paoli was destroyed when a truck driver disregarded the weight and height and drove a load weighing over 43,000 lbs. over it Christmas Day.
According to police, Mary Lambright, 23, of Fredricksburg, Ind., was operating a 2015 Volvo tractor pulling a 53-foot semi-trailer loaded with bottled water when she crossed the bridge at about noon. Authorities estimated the load of water weighed around 43,000 lbs.
As Lambright’s truck entered the bridge, the trailer’s top was ripped off due to its height. She continued across the bridge until the weight of the tractor and trailer caused it to collapse.
Lambright and a 17-year-old passenger were able to exit the tractor and were unharmed.
Lambright told police she was attempting to drive the truck to the Wal-mart parking lot to park when she entered the Paoli square from East Main Street. She missed the exit to go to the Wal-mart and continued on West Main Street. She turned left on Southwest First Street and then turned onto South Gospel Street and had planned on turning left on South Oak Street but was unsuccessful.
After attempting the turn several times, Lambright decided to head to a parking lot on South Gospel Street where she knew she could turn the rig around to get back to Southwest First Street. When she got to the parking lot, she found that it was too full of heavy equipment for her to turn the tractor-trailer around. She continued on the street and attempted to cross the iron bridge.
Lambright told police she was aware of the posted 6-ton weight limit and the “No Semis” sign on the iron bridge. When asked why she drove the truck across the bridge, she told police that she didn’t know how many pounds 6 tons was.
Police advised her that her truck and trailer were close to 30 tons at the time of the crash.
Lambright told police she was uncomfortable backing the trailer up and had made the decision to cross the bridge instead of attempting to turn around.
Lambright received her Commercial Drivers License (CDL) endorsement May 12, 2015. She currently drives for Louisville Logistics out of Louisville, Kentucky.
The vehicle and trailer were hauled to Wilcox wrecker service out of Salem, Indiana and is being held pending an inspection by the Indiana State Police.
Authorities stated the bridge was built in 1880.
Paoli Police, Orange County Sheriff Department, Paoli Fire and Rescue, Paoli town employees, IU Health, Wilcox Wrecker Service, Hankins Corvette Sales, and Kendell Trucking assisted at the scene.
Lambright was cited for reckless operation of a tractor-trailer, a class B misdemeanor; disregarding a traffic control device, a class B infraction; and overweight on posted bridge.