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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