One dead after couple drives off demolished bridge in Indiana; access and proper signage called into question

Updated Apr 7, 2015

A woman was killed March 28 after she and her husband drove off a partially demolished bridge, plunging 37.5 feet to the ground below.

According to a report from the Times of Northwest Indiana, 51-year-old Zohra Hussain died of burns after her 2014 Nissan Sentra burst into flames after the fall from the Cline Avenue bridge in East Chicago.

The bridge was closed in 2009 due to deterioration and condemned in 2010 by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department tells the paper that Zohra’s husband, Iftikhar Hussain, 64, was driving the vehicle and survived the fall. Investigators believe Hussain was directed by a GPS unit to drive onto the bridge, leading him to drive around concrete barriers and ignore signs warning that the road was closed.

However, in a follow-up report, INDOT spokesman Matt Deitchley told the paper, “at least one concrete barrier and one barricade sign,” on the bridge had been moved at some point before the Hussains made their way onto the bridge. INDOT crews are supposed to check the barricades and signage once per week to make sure they are properly placed, the paper reports.

Deitchley was not sure how or why the barrier was moved.

The Hussains hailed from Chicago and were likely not familiar with the area or the bridge. In fact, the Times, found another person from out of town who nearly drove off the bridge in February. Scott Green, of Wilmette, Illinois, decided to drive onto the bridge after consulting a map. He slammed on his brakes a mere 4 feet before the road ended.

“I saw a car coming the other way on the other side,” he told the Times. “I saw that and I thought, ‘OK, the road must be open.’ That sort of gave me the confidence to keep going…It happened to one person, and it almost happened to me. Something is wrong. There should be no physical way a car can get down there.”

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department is continuing to investigate the accident.