Driver dies after pedestrian bridge collapses onto Detroit freeway

A pedestrian bridge collapsed over a Detroit freeway early Friday, killing one person and shutting the roadway in both directions. reports the driver of a Dumpster hauler died in the accident. Authorities believe the vehicle struck the bridge with its rear component raised, causing the collapse onto the Southfield Freeway. The road was closed from Interstate 96 to Joy Road.

Michigan State Police Lt. Michael A. Shaw told reporters at the scene that the driver, whose identity has not been released, worked for a waste-hauling business. He says "momentum is enough to take down the bridge" when hit by a truck.

Shaw says no one was on the bridge when it fell.

"When the boom struck the bridge, it actually pulled the bridge down with it," Shaw said. "It's just the beginning of rush hour, so nobody else was struck. If this would have happened maybe an hour later it would have been a lot worse."

Shaw said the driver was taken to a hospital and died, but he didn't have details about what caused the driver's death. The driver's identity has not been released.

Barnika Cage, who lives a block from the bridge, told The Detroit News she heard a "boom" sound, went down the street and saw that the bridge had fallen. She said she saw a man get out of the truck, stumble, and then fall face first on the grass along the freeway.

"There was blood all over his face," Cage said. "I was just praying he was OK."

The Michigan Department of Transportation and state police said they weren't sure how long the roadway would be closed. Traffic was being forced off the freeway in both directions, officials said. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was among the stranded drivers, reports.

MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said the bridge, which had been in "fair to good" condition prior to the accident, would be removed from the freeway after police complete their on-scene investigation. She said she didn't immediately know the age of the bridge, but said it wasn't replaced when the freeway was rebuilt in 2009.

"It still had many years of service left," she said of the bridge. "It's only down because a truck pulled it down."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.