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Truck plunges off Bay Bridge

August 10, 2008

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- A spectacular accident in which a tractor-trailer plunged off the Bay Bridge was expected to keep one lane of the bridge closed through Monday afternoon and continue to snarl traffic through the morning rush hour, state officials said.

One lane of the two-lane eastbound span reopened late Sunday, but the Maryland Transportation Authority urged motorists to find alternate routes, warning that major delays were expected.

The accident occurred about 4 a.m. Sunday on the eastbound span of the twin-bridge complex, killing the driver of the tractor trailer and seriously injuring two others involved in the three-vehicle accident.

The tractor-trailer fell about 30 to 40 feet into shallow water, said Maryland Transportation Authority spokesman Jonathan Green, who did not immediately release the identities of those involved. Green said he did not know what caused the crash.

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The scenic four-mile bridges, which peak at about 186 feet, are a major artery to the Delaware and Maryland beaches. The eastbound span opened in 1952 and the parallel structure opened about 20 years later.

Traffic was diverted from the eastbound span to the westbound span, which had been closed for maintenance, causing delays throughout the day that backed up traffic as much as 14 miles.

The 18-wheeler, which was upright with its top visible in about 10 feet of water, had been traveling westbound when the accident occurred.

Mountaire Farms, a poultry processing company based in Selbyville, Del., owns the truck, said company spokesman Roger Marino. He did not know the driver's name or what the truck was hauling.

"It is a tragic loss for the Mountaire family, because it is a close-knit company. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family," Marino said. "We will be assisting the authorities as we wait for more information."

Crews also worked to contain a spill from the truck's diesel fuel tank. A crane was at the scene to lift the tractor-trailer from the water.

Vikram Virk of Ocean City, who was driving a U-Haul truck for a friend's move, was stuck in traffic at about noon near exit 24 for Rowe Boulevard. He told The (Baltimore) Sun he didn't know about the crash when he headed east to the bridge.

"It's just a problem and a hassle," he said.

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