The driver of a tractor-trailer that crashed into two cars on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, sending one into the water, was on his first trip in the U.S. without a more experienced operator, a preliminary report said Monday.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the 29-year-old driver in the July 19 accident near Annapolis was employed by a Canadian carrier and was on his first solo trip in the United States.
According to the report, a truck-tractor and refrigerated trailer crashed into the rear of a car driven by 22-year-old Morgan Lake of Sunderland. Officials say the truck and the car continued forward and hit another car. Morgan Lake’s car was pushed onto and over the barrier wall, falling 27 feet into the bay.
The 22-year-old of Sunderland was able to get out of the car and swim to some rocks, where she was rescued. She suffered minor injuries. The drivers of the other vehicles were not hurt.
The report says all vehicles involved were inspected and no mechanical defects were found.
According to the report, the truck driver said just before the accident, he had looked at the driver-side mirror because of lights and sounds behind him. The driver told officials that when he looked back to the road, traffic had stopped and he was unable to avoid hitting Lake’s car.
The NTSB says the company operating the tractor-trailer is Bulk Carriers PEI Limited of Prince Edward Island, Canada. Officials say the driver, who had emigrated from Hungary to Canada, had worked with the company since April.
The driver had made a delivery in Orange, Va., and was en route to pick up another load in Maryland.
The report said the Bay Bridge trip was the driver’s first such trip in the United States without being paired with a more experienced driver.
The NTSB decided to look into the accident to determine whether there are any nationwide safety issues involved in the crash. AAA Mid-Atlantic and Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski had called for a federal investigation into the bridge’s safety.
The report said the NTSB had investigated a 2008 crash on the bridge in which a tractor-trailer crashed through a concrete barrier and plunged into the bay, killing the driver. After that accident, some concrete barriers were upgraded.
The NTSB investigation is continuing.
The Maryland Transportation Authority said Monday that it expects to release its report on the accident within two weeks. Officials expect to provide the cause and sequence of the crash, as well as with any charges.