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Truck Driver Dies In Bay Bridge Crash

Two Other Motorists Are Injured; Incident Creates Traffic Nightmare

[MAP: Truck crashes and falls off Bay Bridge]
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By Donna St. George and Michael Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, August 11, 2008; Page A01

Beachgoers and other motorists spent several frustrating hours stuck in traffic backups of more than 10 miles on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge yesterday in the aftermath of a deadly crash that sent a tractor-trailer hurtling through a concrete Jersey wall and into the water below, killing the truck driver.

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The three-vehicle crash, shortly before 4 a.m., also sent two women in a 1997 Chevrolet Camaro to a hospital, officials said. It closed down the older, two-lane eastbound span of the bridge during popular beach-commute hours and raised safety questions about the 56-year-old structure.

Officials reopened one lane of the eastbound bridge about 8:15 p.m., but almost three hours later, long backups remained. Officials said motorists should expect delays during this morning's rush hour.

The damaged Jersey wall, with its 10- to 15-foot gap, was being repaired, with a more permanent restoration to come later.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the scene yesterday as state engineers worked to inspect the bridge's structural integrity, said Cpl. Jonathan Green of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

The Bay Bridge, which is part of U.S. Route 50/301, has two spans -- a newer, three-lane westbound bridge and an older, two-lane eastbound bridge.

The crash involved the 18-wheeler and two passenger cars. Neither of the two occupants of the second car, a 2005 Toyota Prius, was hospitalized, officials said.

State officials did not release details about the cause of the crash but said the driver of the 18-wheeler, which was filled with refrigerated chicken, was headed west when the truck veered across a lane of oncoming traffic and struck the Jersey wall about a half-mile from the Kent Island side of the bridge, plunging about 20 to 35 feet into the water. At the time, traffic in both directions was using the eastbound span while the westbound span was closed for maintenance.

The truck driver was identified last night as John R. Short, 57, of Willards, Md. His body was retrieved by divers.

Green identified the Camaro's injured driver as Candy Lynn Baldwin, 19, of Millington, Md. Her passenger was identified as Trisha Ann Michele Carrigan, 21, of Quincy, Calif. Baldwin remained in the hospital last night. Carrigan was treated and released, police said.

The driver of the second car was identified as Seung Won Hong, 41, of Springfield, and the passenger as Ho Yoo, 42, of Alexandria.

Green said it was thought to be the first time that a vehicle had plummeted from the bridge into the bay. "Everyone I've talked to so far, this is the first they've heard," he said.

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