Harrison County Officers Respond In Force To Bridge Accident

Divers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel rushed to the shores of Pass Christian Thursday afternoon.

"The initial call that we received was that the Bay St. Louis Bridge is collapsing and we had cars in the water and people in the water," said Major Wayne Payne with the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

It turned out, one of the columns under construction on the bridge collapsed, tossing nine workers in the water.

"They were pouring concrete into the column, and they had to vibrate it to make it settle," Payne said. "Something gave way. We don't know exactly what happened. It was a column under construction. They had about nine people working on that column, and that column gave way and went into the water."

Eight victims were pulled from the Bay. Five were transported to Memorial Hospital in Gulfport, the other three were taken to Hancock Medical Center in Bay St. Louis. Search and rescue teams continued to comb the waters for hours, looking for the one missing man.

Questions immediately surfaced about the safety precautions they took before the accident. When asked if the workers were wearing the appropriate safety gear, Payne responded, "That I'm not sure of."

Rumors surrounding the accident quickly spread through town.

"We heard that the scaffolding collapsed from the radio station," said Pass Christian resident Chuck Linkey. "My wife had a little bit of fear because we're having a family reunion, and her daughter's on her way over, and she would have been on the bridge. She's on her way on Kiln-Delisle Road. The long way now."

Officers shut down the bridge temporarily as a precaution. After determining that the structure was safe, they reopened the span.

Granite - Archer Western is the contractor on the project. A spokesman says the company is still trying to determine what happened, and is not commenting at this time.