Kent, OH Bridge Collapse, Dec 1964



Kent, Ohio (UPI) -- A bridge collapsed during a blinding snowstorm Friday under the weight of a heavy truck, sending a minister whose car was on the bridge to his death in the icy river 30 feet below.
Officials said a 40-foot section of the 75-year-old bridge gave way under the weight of a gasoline truck carrying more than three times the load limit allowed on the 200-foot bridge.
The truck and a car driven by the REV. SHOCKLEY GRAHAM plunged into the Cuyahoga River when the heavily-traveled bridge in this northeastern Ohio university community gave way. Three people were injured.
Prosecutor George Martin said a manslaughter charge may be filed against the truck driver, HARRY SHUSTER, 40, of nearby Stow. He was hospitalized in fair condition.
Assistant City Engineer James McCoy said the truck and gas load weighed 30 tons. He said county engineers had inspected the bridge this week and posted signs that it was safe for only eight-ton loads.
The bridge was on a main artery leading to Kent State university and was used by thousands of commuting students, who often used traffic jams there and at a nearby railroad crossing as an excuse for being late to classes.
Because of the holidays, however, not many students were immediately affected by the accident.
Two school boys walking across the bridge to a high school suffered injuries when the section plunged into the river.
Listed in fair condition was RONALD SWEIGER, 16, of nearby Streetsboro, whose left little finger was amputated. He suffered a head bump and multiple facial abrasions. DONALD PORTER, 16, of Kent suffered head lacerations, multiple abrasions of both legs, and shock.
Ohio Edison Co. sent work crews from Akron to flush out the remaining gas in the truck tanks, to avert a threatened explosion. East Ohio Gas Co. officials shut off all gas mains in the area.
The minister's auto, following the truck, plunged into the river first, and moments later the tanker started backward and toppled onto the car.
The clergyman's body was found when a crane pulled both vehicles from the water. Passersby and students from Kent high school jumped into the frigid river and pulled out the injured.
The falling structure snapped a water main running beneath the bridge, and cut off water service to more than 1,000 homes in the northwestern section of the river for several hours.
Police, sheriff's deputies, the Ohio highway patrol and other agencies were sent to the scene to handle the emergency. Ironically, a levy for a new bridge failed to pass in the Nov. 3 election.

Cedar Rapids Gazette Iowa 1964-12-18