Aerosol can and distraction blamed for fatal Causeway crash

Aerosol can and distraction blamed for fatal Causeway crash

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Two days after a garbage truck slammed into a maintenance convoy, Causeway officials held an emergency meeting to debate safety protocols for everyone on the bridge.

The crash took the life of 57-year-old maintenance worker Edward Burton of New Orleans.

"There is no other way to describe this than a tragedy," said Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou. "We lost a worker, which - losing anybody is terrible - but this is even more so."

Dufrechou said he won't put maintenance workers back on the bridge until all safety protocols are evaluated, from the layout of convoys to the time of day that striping work is done.

"The topic came up of closing the bridge for some of the work. We're trying to avoid that. That's the last option we want," Dufrechou said.

However, it is still an option because he's considering anything in order to protect his employees from crashes like the one on Monday.

"Nothing is more important than life," Dufrechou said while holding back tears. "You've got to recognize you're putting your life in your hands, putting your life in your hands and your teammates, everybody that's working with you, whether you're a police officer doing a fog convoy or a maintenance guy out here 24 hours a day. Same thing with the contractors."

Dufrechou said too often lives are at the mercy of distracted drivers, and he said believes inattentiveness played a role in both the crash that left an 18-wheeler's cab hanging over the southbound bridge railing Oct. 30 and the fatal crash on Monday.

"The truck driver indicated at the last minute he realized he was right on top of the attenuator truck. He tried to brake, and according to him an aerosol can was rolling around the vehicle, the floor of his vehicle, and it blocked the brake pedal so he couldn't apply the brakes," Dufrechou said.

Dufrechou said there were no skid marks until just around the crash site. There, it looked like the garbage truck tried to swerve at the last second. Unfortunately, it ended up hitting the maintenance truck at the worst angle possible and sent it overboard.

"I think about my own family with water bottles that - I spoke to my daughter and wife a couple days ago about cleaning out the cars and being sure that that nothing is down there to block the pedals," Dufrechou said. "The fact is we lost a soul."

One soul of far too many who has been lost to inattentiveness - a pandemic on the road.

"The other tragic part of this is, this truck driver is a good guy. A hard worker. He's very distraught. His life and the lives of the family of the construction - our maintenance guy, have been changed forever," Dufrechou said.

On Wednesday, the investigation into the fatal crash was ongoing. Dufrechou said he expects the garbage truck driver to face charges.

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