- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2008

ANNAPOLIS, MD. (AP) - A tractor-trailer crashed early Sunday morning on the eastbound Bay Bridge and plunged into the water, killing the driver, authorities said.

Traffic on the two-lane, east- and west-bound spans of the bridge was still backed up Sunday afternoon. The backup on the eastbound span, which was reduced to one lane, was about 10 miles. Traffic westbound was about three miles, on one of the busiest weekends of the year for the bridge, the major route for residents from the Baltimore-Washington area to reach the Atlantic beaches.

Mountaire Farms, a poultry processing company based in Selbyville, Del., owns the truck, according to company spokesman Roger Marino. He said he did not know the driver’s name or what the truck was hauling.

“It is a tragic loss for the Mountaire family, because it is a close-knit company,” Mr. Marino said. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We will be assisting the authorities as we wait for more information.”

Two other people were seriously injured in the three-vehicle accident, said Cpl. Jonathan Green, spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority spokesman. He did not immediately release the identities of those involved in the crash.

The tractor-trailer fell about 30 to 40 feet off the bridge into shallow water about 4 a.m. Sunday, Cpl. Green said. The 18-wheeler was upright and its top was visible in about 10 feet of water in the Chesapeake Bay.

The accident was on the eastbound span of the bridge, with traffic running both ways as the westbound span was closed for maintenance. The truck had been traveling westbound. It’s unclear how the other two vehicle were involved.

Cpl. Green did not know what caused the crash. Authorities shut down the span to investigate and were routing vehicles to a parallel bridge.

Officials opened one eastbound lane on the westbound span, with two westbound lanes remaining open. Kellie Boulware of the State Highway Administration said traffic was backed up seven miles on each side of the bridge. She advised drivers heading to the Eastern Shore to take detours on Interstates 97 and 95, or Routes 13 and 1.

“It’s a slow-moving process, people are getting through, but it’s going to be a while,” Miss Boulware said.

Crews also worked to contain a spill from the truck’s diesel fuel tank. A crane was at the scene to lift the tractor-trailer from the water.

Vikram Virk of Ocean City, who was driving a U-Haul truck for a friend’s move, was stuck in traffic at about noon near exit 24 for Rowe Boulevard. He told The Baltimore Sun he didn’t know about the crash when he headed east to the bridge.

“It’s just a problem and a hassle,” he said.

The scenic four-mile bridges, which peak at about 186 feet, are a major artery to the Delaware and Maryland beaches. The eastbound span opened in 1952 and the parallel structure opened about 20 years later.

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