The wife of the truck driver who died last year after his truck and trailer were blown off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel has filed a lawsuit alleging the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District which operates the CBBT was negligent in preventing the death of her husband.
The bridge was under a level 4 restriction on February 9th, 2017 until just after 12:01 as Joseph Chen, 47, a driver with Evans Seafood company was heading back to North Carolina for his next load carrying a load of empty pallets. He approached the CBBT the area was under a gale wind warning. The bridge was under a level 4 restriction until just after 12:01, which prevents tractor trailers from crossing the bridge due to wind hazards, and was reduced to a level 1 restriction which allows trucks to cross.
Chen began crossing around 12:15 according to the complaint, and six minutes later, Chen’s truck and trailer were hit by a wind gust into and through the guardrail, off the side of the bridge and into the Chesapeake Bay. Chen was able to escape the truck and waited for rescue. While he waited, the current and wind continued to blow the trailer east. The complaint alleges that although the CBBT has tools including rope and throw rings to aid in the rescue with an event like this, none of these life saving devices were deployed. The weather conditions prevented rescue by boat, so a U.S. Navy helicopter was dispatched for the rescue. Chen was found by the rescue crew and was rescued 40 minutes after originally hit the watcher. During the medevac, Chen passed away from hypothermia.
According to another report, police reportedly said wind was not a factor in the accident and the accident was caused when Chen attempted to pass a slow moving tractor-trailer, overcorrected, rode onto the the left lane and over the guardrail and following into the water below.
The lawsuit demands a $6 million judgement alleging that the CBBT District was negligent when it reduced the Level 4 restriction down to a Level 1 the day of the accident, and negligent. A four day jury trial is scheduled for July 14-17, 2020.