Three People Injured After Swinging Bridge Collapses

By: Danielle Morgan Email
By: Danielle Morgan Email

Hundreds of people use them across the region, as their only source in and out of their homes, but how safe are swinging bridges?

Sunday night, emergency officials say three people were hurt, one critically injured when a steel rope snapped causing the swinging bridge they were crossing, to collapse.

A trip to the grocery store for baby milk turned into a nightmare for one Breathitt County family.

“Three people had fallen off the swinging bridge, the farthest fall was about a 15 to 20 foot fall,” Stephen Bowling said.

Rescuers say a steel cable snapped, collapsing the bridge sending a woman and two teenage boys in the river.

“Their only source getting into and from this house was this bridge, so we actually put a boat into the water and helped the ambulance service getting them into the boat, bringing patients back across the river and then carrying them to the ambulance,” Bowling said.

Up to 60 swinging bridges like the one this family uses are estimated to still be in use in Breathitt County alone, the stability of them are now in the spotlight.

“All over eastern Kentucky we have this problem with swinging bridges that are getting older that are well used, that are in danger of collapse,” Bowling said.

Even though county officials built nearly all of the swinging bridges in the past...they say a letter from the attorney general tells them, they're not responsible for repairs.

“We're not supposed to work on them because they're not a part of the county road system, but if that's their only access, then we'll go up there and try to help those people,” Breathitt County Judge Executive Jason Richardson said.

With the growing risk of danger, richardson says, when possible...he'll push for roads to be built, to shut down more swinging bridges.

Family members say Melissa Campbell may have a broken pelvis, among other minor injuries.

County road workers suspect de-icing salt may have broken down the steel cable...causing it to snap...but it's still under investigation.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by jo neace Location: breathitt co. and tenn on Jan 9, 2008 at 03:50 AM
    These swinging bridges should be considered valuable heritage landmarks.Heritage is what we identify ourselves by, what we use to resist encroachment by others who feel they can impose their brand of heritage upon us. In time our swinging bridges can be considered fine art objects, tourist attractions, and a source of pride for all of us.
  • by deb Location: florida on Nov 15, 2007 at 07:01 PM
    while traveling to breathitt this thanksgiving, i was going to visit an old swinging bridge we used to cross for fun during my childhood. now i'm having second thoughts.
  • by Sharon Location: Delaware, OH on Oct 28, 2007 at 02:48 PM
    I remember going through Floyd Co. when I was a little girl and seeing a bridge collapse and a dark colored car below in it's top. Yep, they did have swinging bridges for cars. I was always scared my dad would use one. The collapse I saw could well have been Angies grandparents. I would have been about 9 at the time. I can't believe the government is still allowing these things to be used!
  • by AC Location: Corbin on Oct 23, 2007 at 01:31 PM
    give me a break with all the government bashing!! my tax dollars should go to funding for public roads and bridges ... not private bridges and driveways. it's sad that this type of accident happens ... but it's the homeowners' responsibily to make sure their homes and the paths leading to them are safe. and if the homeowners are too irresponsible or poor to do that, it's not my problem as a taxpayer.
  • by SANDY Location: LONDON KY on Oct 23, 2007 at 08:57 AM
    I DIDN'T KNOW YOU COULD DRIVE CARS ACROSS SWINGING BRIDGES THE WAY ANGIE DESCRIBES IN HER COMMENT. THE ONES WE USED WHEN WE WERE GROWING UP CONSISTED OF A PATH WIDE ENOUGH FOR TWO PEOPLE TO WALK SIDE BY SIDE ACROSS THE SWINGING BRIDGES BUT I NEVER SAW ONE BIG ENOUGH FOR A CAR.
  • by Angie Location: Prestonsburg on Oct 23, 2007 at 04:01 AM
    On July 16, 1962 at Knotley Hollow in Floyd County, KY, my mother was six years old and traveling across a bridge like this with her parents and grandmother. They didn't get far when the bridge collapsed and smashed their car upon the side of the riverbank. Amazingly, my mother survived that crash, but both her parents and grandmother were killed. I can't believe there are bridges like this that are used today, but if this bridge is the only way these people can get in or out of their home, someone needs to fix it! Someone is most definitely responsible for the bridge, whether it be the county or the state. If these bridges weren't safe, they should have been closed down a long time ago! My prayers go out to the 3 people injured Sunday night.
  • by thoms price Location: pikeville on Oct 23, 2007 at 03:18 AM
    that is terriable people should not still be usng walk bridges to get to here house. we all pay enough taxes to have roads built to those houses
  • by Andy on Oct 22, 2007 at 04:15 PM
    One more failure of Ky. goverment.they won't fund bridges for people to travel over .They won't repair them,for piblic safety.But they will fund public entertainment centers.I guess we will have to have another subscriptin fee like the fire dept.s==You know tax'es without Repsentation.Where's the money boys.

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