A Friday evening car crash caused a vehicle to be knocked off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and plummet 40 feet into the bay below.
The unidentified 22-year-old female driver of the vehicle survived the fall and was able to swim safely to a nearby jetty where she was rescued and taken to a hospital. She was released Saturday.
The crash happened Friday evening around 8:30 PM, shortly after she got on the bridge going eastbound about a quarter mile away from the shore.
She was struck by a tractor trailer and her car forced off the road and into the bay, some 40 feet below.
Maryland Transport Authority Police believe she was the only occupant in the car.
The woman’s car landed in about six to eight feet of water and was about a quarter-mile from the shore.
She was “very fortunate” as she was able to escape her vehicle and swim to a nearby jetty, according to Anne Arundel county fire department spokesman Steve Thompson.
A boater saw the crash and drove over to wait with the woman until paramedics in a fire department boat arrived to rescue her.
When she was rescued, the woman was conscious and able to communicate with officials.
After placing her in a Strokes rescue basket and taken to shore, the victim was then transported by helicopter to the University of Maryland Trauma Center in Baltimore to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
While she was initially admitted in critical condition Friday evening, her condition improved to stable and she was released Saturday night and allowed to return home.
The driver of the tractor trailer was uninjured in the crash, and stayed to answer questions from investigators.
A SUV was also involved in the crash, but there were no other injuries.
The last time a vehicle went off the bridge was in 2008, and the driver of a tractor trailer was killed in the incident.
The eastbound lanes remained closed Friday night while traffic was diverted to the westbound lanes so engineers could inspect the bridge for damage.
The lane closures caused extensive delays eastbound on the bridge Friday night, with traffic backed up for nearly two miles
Engineers signed off on the bridge around 1 AM Saturday when the eastbound lanes were reopened.
After the crash, responders could see the car sunk beneath the water off the side of the bridge.
If wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that the car could be lifted out of the bay by a crew operating a bridge crane.
The Maryland Transport Authority is currently conducting an investigation of the crash.
The William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge – more commonly referred to as the Bay Bridge – has long antagonized local drivers, especially those who use it to get to the Atlantic Coastal resorts in the summer.
In May, the New York Times profiled Alex Robinson who runs Kent Island Express – a business that provides drivers to ferry people across the bridge in their own cars.
Alex Robinson charges $25 each way and says he provides the service to about 5,800 people.
Many aspects of the bridge cause anxiety in drivers, from the first dogleg curve, to the steep incline over the first suspension span. The bridge then drops and propels motorists downhill over the second span. Drivers then have to maneuver through a claustrophobic cantilever that feels like a tunnel.
And that’s just on a nice day. Add bad weather – which their frequently is – and you’ll understand why Travel + Leisure rated the Chesapeake Bay Bridge the ninth scariest bridge in the world.