RITBA STATEMENT ON THE SAKONNET RIVER BRIDGE INCIDENT
JAMESTOWN, R.I. – Today an incident occurred on the
Sakonnet River Bridge during a routine bridge inspection. A private contractor
hired by the Authority was inspecting underneath the bridge deck using a machine
known as an Under Bridge Inspection (UBI) vehicle, commonly known as a ‘Snooper’.
This type of vehicle has an arm that extends out and under the bridge to facilitate
inspections. For reasons yet to be known, the vehicle malfunctioned and tipped
over while two workers were conducting the inspection leaving them stranded in the
vehicle’s bucket. At this time, the Authority believes that all safety protocols
and procedures were followed prior to the malfunctioning of the equipment. The
Authority immediately notified public safety officials and called in another UBI
vehicle to rescue the two stranded workers. This required the closing of the
Sakonnet River Bridge to all traffic while the Authority and public safety officials
undertook the rescue operation; which was ultimately successful. We are thankful to
all public safety first responders for acting quickly and that the workers are safe.
Safety is our number one priority at the Authority and we will undertake a
thorough internal investigation into this matter and fully cooperate with any other
agency’s investigation into how this incident occurred including OSHA.