DETROIT (WWJ) The bucket of a hydraulic garbage truck struck a pedestrian bridge on Joy Road at Southfield in Detroit early Friday morning, collapsing it to the ground.
The driver, a man in his 40s, was taken to the hospital by EMS and later pronounced dead, according to Michigan State Polict Lt. Michael Shaw.
In a bizarre twist, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was on the scene mingling with observers after his car was stopped by the bridge collapse.
One of Detroit’s biggest sports stars was quickly — and safely — picked up by a member of the team’s security, a spokesman confirmed, saying Stafford was uninjured.
The semi’s driver was reportedly injured and taken away from the scene by EMS.
“There’s concrete all over … It’s amazing, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said WWJ’s Charlie Langton, reporting live from the scene. “The pedestrian overpass is totally down, smashed to bits, the sign for Warren Avenue is smashed to bits. It’s just a mass of concrete and metal, it’s incredible.”
Gary Kleinart of Novi said his vehicle was hit by a piece of the debris.
“I was just driving south on…Southfield, and all of a sudden it just came down right in front of me…it hit my car,” said Kleinart. “The whole top is smashed in and the back window is all blown out.”
“I’ve got a couple of scrapes from the glass hitting me, but other than that I think I’m OK,” Kleinart said.
“It was pretty wild, you’re like half asleep, it’s 5 a.m., you’re thinking ‘Am I seeing what I’m seeing?'” one witness told Langton.
The road was closed in both directions, and traffic quickly backed up for Friday morning commuters. The freeway remained closed for the afternoon rush, but the northbound side reopened at around 6:30 p.m. Friday. Southbound M-10 remains closed at I-96. Alternate route suggestions include Evergreen or Greenfield.
Diane Cross, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, said “it’s an older bridge,” adding it’s too soon to tell if the bridge being in a ‘weakened state’ due to age contributed to its collapse. MDOT officials say the bridge was inspected by state officials in May and was due to be replaced in 2017.
State Police Lieutenant Mike Shaw said they’re working with MDOT determine exactly what happened.
Speaking to reporters after Lions practice later in the day, Stafford talked about his morning ordeal.
“Obviously you don’t expect to see a bridge down, you know, on the highway,” Stafford said. “But I was just mostly worried about trying to get her as fast as I could; and, obviously, the health of the driver.”