The process of removing a bridge from the Necoslie River is still ongoing and so is the process of healing for the driver who was injured when it gave way.
On July 16, the bridge collapsed when a loaded gravel truck was backing across it. The 24-tons of weight were too much for the bridge, which had reportedly been modified to be put in over the Necoslie near Ketch Road.
“When I made mid-span, it totally collapsed,” said the driver of the truck. The driver said as the bridge hit the river bed, the truck continued to bounce, and the springs were broken and the truck completely totalled, with the back of the truck actually embedded into the bridge in such a way it had to be cut out to be removed.
The accident “threw me around like a rag doll,” said the driver, who has a broken back from the incident.
As the truck bounced over and over again once the collapse took place, the driver said he hit the steering wheel so many times his ribs and other parts of his upper body are still bruised nearly three weeks after the accident.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” he said. He estimates it took him half an hour to regain his breath and because he was alone at the time and the radio would not work, he had to make his way out of the damaged truck to get cell reception on his phone in order to call for help.
While there is no known nerve damage, the man is in a back brace and will likely take months to heal before he can get back to work.
The bridge was reportedly from the Tache River, but Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Management staff said the original application to put the bridge in has not yet been found, but under The Water Act it did not require a permit from them because it was a free span bridge, which does not impact the river directly as there are no pilings and it went from one bank to the other.
As well, for their application purposes, the bridge did not require engineering to go in. It is unclear whether another government organization would have required engineering plans to be submitted.
The Ministry of Environment, which also does the Provincial Emergency Plan response for such incidents, are aware of the bridge in the river, but were unable to comment on their involvement prior to press time.
To get the bridge out, first the Work Safe BC investigation had to be completed, at which point the bridge was released back to the owner, Harry Hooke. According to the Work Safe BC investigator, the bridge has been released back to Hooke and Canyon Tree Farms.
Once released, Hooke then has to gain permission from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Management on a plan to remove the bridge.
According to Kevin Hoesktra of the ministry, Hooke was contracting an engineer to develop the removal prescription which would then be submitted to Hoekstra, who would review and provide comment on it.
Hoekstra said once he had the plan, he usually can review and provide a response with comments within the same day.
He said due to the preservative chemicals in the structure, he would normally prescribe an aquatic boom be placed downstream.
Hooke did not return phone calls prior to press time as to the progress on the project or engineering plan.
As for the Work Safe BC investigation into the incident, the investigator is still gathering information and expects a report would be released within six months, hopefully sooner.