Demolition goes awry, excavator operator killed in tragic bridge collapse in Cincinnati

Beams rest atop an excavator following a pancake collapse of an overpass being prepared for demolition in Cincinnati. Credit: Liz Dufour/Cincinnati EnquirerBeams rest atop an excavator following a pancake collapse of an overpass being prepared for demolition in Cincinnati. Credit: Liz Dufour/Cincinnati Enquirer

While working atop a bridge that crosses over Interstate 75 in Cincinnati late Monday night, the structure suddenly collapsed below an excavator operator, crushing and killing the man.

According to a report from the Cincinnati Enquirer, 35-year-old Brandon Carl, was operating the machine when the Hopple Street bridge suffered a pancake collapse beneath him. Carl, engaged to be married and a father of four, was part of a crew with Kokosing Construction Co., contracted by the Ohio Department of Transportation to demolish the bridge which was recently replaced by a new bridge that has already opened.

The driver of a semi truck was also injured in the collapse, driving directly into the fallen overpass as additional debris rained on top of the truck’s cab. His condition was unknown.

It remains unclear why the bridge collapsed, but the Enquirer reports the Cincinnati Fire Department “used air bags to lift the heavy beams” that crushed Carl over the course of about four hours. The crew was preparing the bridge for demolition. From photos taken by the Enquirer after the incident, it appears steel beams fell directly on top of the excavator’s cab during the collapse.

ODoT told the paper that Kokosing is doing a “forensic investigation” into the incident to identify what went wrong. The city and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have launched investigations into the incident as well.