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3 hurt in collapse of highway overpass

August 01, 2007|Eric Bailey | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The morning rush-hour collapse Tuesday of a highway overpass under construction near Oroville injured three people, buried a delivery truck and shut down a key highway crossroads in Butte County.

Authorities say construction worker Jeff Doll, 39, of Plumas Lake, Calif., "surfed" toppling steel girders to the ground, suffering broken bones that left him in serious condition at a hospital.

Also injured was FedEx driver Robert Sylvester, 45, of Chico, Calif., who was trapped for nearly three hours after a pair of 3,000-pound beams crushed his truck. The bridge collapsed about 7:15 a.m. at the junction of state Highways 149 and 70, about 75 miles north of Sacramento.

Rescue workers used a crane to help stabilize the beams and then cut away portions of the boxy delivery truck to free Sylvester, who was flown to the Enloe Medical Center trauma unit in nearby Chico.

Sylvester, who was talking with paramedics as they worked to free his legs, was treated for his injuries and released by midafternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The construction worker was driven to Oroville Hospital and later flown to Enloe Medical Center with a broken pelvis, leg and arm. Hospital officials said Doll was in serious condition.

Also, a woman who rear-ended a Caltrans truck near the bridge collapse was hospitalized with a broken leg. Carrie Underwood, 29, of Oroville was listed in fair condition. Authorities said the portion of the overpass that collapsed had been erected Monday evening as part of a $105-million upgrade of the highways' transition lanes. About two dozen steel beams and posts toppled during the collapse.

Caltrans officials have launched an investigation, along with Cal-OSHA. California 149, which was closed by the bridge collapse, is expected to reopen by this morning.

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