Eastbound Bay Bridge closed; driver thrown into bay
The eastbound span of the Bay Bridge has been closed because of a crash that threw a person who had left a disabled vehicle into the Chesapeake Bay, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. The person had been recovered but there was no word on his or her condition.
In a second incident a short time later, a body was recovered from the water after an unattended vehicle was found on the westbound span. A spokeswoman, Kelly Melhem, said the incident was "apparently unrelated."
As a result of the crash, two-way operations have been implemented on the three-lane westbound span, with one lane open in each direction and the middle lane closed as a buffer. Melhem said the eastbound bridge is expected to remain closed for a few more hours.
Melhem said the crash took place about 10:40 a.m. as one of the two lanes of the eastbound bridge was closed for road work. She said a passenger vehicle apparently broke down in that lane and an occupant had left the car when a truck struck its rear, throwing that person into the water.
The crash occurred on the western end of the bridge before it reaches its highest point, the spokeswoman said. "I do imagine the injuries would be substantial," she said.
Melhem said two other persons had been evaluated for possible injuries at the scene. She did not know their condition, whether they had been transported to hospitals or which vehicles they had been in.
In the second incident, Melhem did not give the cause of the death but noted that the authority's policy is not to discuss suicides because of a concern that publicity creates a "contagion" leading to other incidents. She said the unattended vehicle was found in the right-hand lane, the only one open to westbound traffic at the time. She said the bridge was closed to westbound traffic from 12:35 p.m. to 1:05 p.m.
The morning's incident is apparently only the second time in the bridge's almost 60-year history that a person has gone off the bridge as a result of a crash. The previous incident occurred Aug. 10, 2008, when a tractor-trailer crashed through a barrier wall on the eastbound span. In that case, the truck driver was killed.
The authority recommends that occupants of vehicles that break down on the bridge remain in their cars until emergency assistance arrives, Melhem said.
A live traffic camera focused on eastbound U.S. 50/301 at Sandy Point shows a serious backup, which extends at least as far to the west as St. Margaret's Road. The authority is urging drivers using the bridge to use caution.
Drivers who are heading to the Eastern Shore this afternoon may want to consider using a northern route around the head of the bay. For people traveling from Baltimore to Ocean City or the Delaware beaches, the travel time is often no more than a half hour more than the Bay Bridge route when traffic is flowing freely.