by Casey Northcutt, Kentucky Public Radio
Today was the final day of hearings in an investigation into a bridge collapse in Western Kentucky. The Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board have conducted the hearing all week, investigating the January crash that collapsed a portion of the Eggners Ferry Bridge.
River Pilot Michael Collins says he tried to steer the Delta Mariner through an alternate span of the Eggners Ferry Bridge with confidence he would clear the road deck prior to the accident.
Collins has more than 30 years of experience. He says he thought he was advising the Chief Mate to transit a span directly to the right of the main channel. He said ships often traveled safely through that span. He didn’t realize the ship was actually transiting three spans down from the main channel until too late.
“I may have made tens of thousands of bridges. This one is the first one that fooled me,” Collins said. “This light scheme, it tricked me. Or I was set up, however you say it. And I’m not exactly sure how.”
Collins’ testimony concludes the week’s hearings. Coast Guard and NTSB officials will now take time to complete a report on the facts leading up to the crash.