Three Recover in Hospital Following Washington Bridge Collapse

Washington Gov. Jay Islee provides updates on collapse, calls rescue efforts "remarkable."
36:43 | 05/24/13

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Transcript for Three Recover in Hospital Following Washington Bridge Collapse
Hello everyone I'm -- Hernandez and an ABC news digital special report three people and two cars hit the water after a truck hit a bridge and Washington State causing it. To collapse all three survived the fall and -- recovering in the hospital. In just a moment the governor of Washington Jay in -- will be giving a press conference about the collapse happened around seven last night let's listening. Combined. In a very. Happy set happenstance that we had no fatalities last night in the Los of the I five bridge over the Skagit river. And I would do want to note having been to the scene just a couple hours after the loss last night. Looking at the current going through that twisted steel of these girders the fact that these rescuers were able to pull this off was remarkable and we really. You want to thank them for their effort Washington State Patrol was on the scene literally minutes to be able shut down the bridge and prevent further loss. Skagit county sheriff's did a tremendous job marshaling resources multiple fire departments. At the immigration authorities -- -- -- -- -- election some private citizens and good fishing boats. So we want to thank everyone for that tremendous display of of -- Maritime rescue. Now we are on the business of trying to. Restored the artery of commerce and economic -- growth in our state. And you cannot overstate the importance of this court -- to Washington State -- our economic. And our ability to enjoy. This weekend. So we are now engaged in a full scale pursuit to restore in this core recorders -- humanly possible I'll give you an update on our current. Status. -- number one we are working in a very coordinated fashion. From the federal government to the local governments. To try to restore temporary and or permanent basis of this particular bridge. I spoke to -- secretary treasury Ray -- This morning. They are assisting the air federal department is assisting the search. For a temporary structure to -- a 160 feet of this missing section. There is a possibility that we can use what's known as they -- bridge which was something. Built and developed in World War II to spend 660 foot session we are searching the entire country right now trying to find a billion leveraged. That might be able to provide and it's a temporary span. -- -- that there will be -- very sophisticated analysis of the remaining part of the bridge. To determine whether there was any damage of the remaining spans it would prevent us using a temporary. Structure. That work started immediately last night within an hour of the collapse. -- state Department of Transportation initiated their emergency contracting procedures. Which were already in place to be able to issue emergency contracts to be -- remove the girders in the wreckage. From the bridge that proceeding as we've -- pace. But we now are engaged in working with the local communities in this morning we were at the incident command. Working with the city's affected mayor Boudreau. Of Mount Vernon mayor Saxton. Burlington. To try to find -- the economic impacts of businesses associate in the and the routes and inconvenience of the local folks. And that is a process. We have reason we have a -- -- in place now. If you drive north and south of I five you will find designated detours to help you around right now -- using highway twenty to the west of the existing. -- five quarter but we do you have multiple routes they're actually four bridges across the script Skagit river within ten miles of this went. That can be -- we anticipate that that he tour or routing will continue to improve over time is. Motorists become accommodated to it and we can figure out the best way to give them information. Around the system. We do want to note that we still have really good businesses open in Skagit county. They welcome. A business from candidate come down to the Burlington. Mall in the cascade mall in the business we have good north self access coming from candidate -- come down to enjoy Memorial Day. We can't but there will be substantial delays and there certainly are right now. Particularly coming northbound. -- five. We want to express appreciation of our federal partners. I spoke ago with chairman Shuster -- -- -- -- -- this morning they have extended every effort I think that's available. The federal government has released a million dollars in emergency assistance based on my proclamation of a disaster which took place this morning. That money's going to come in handy. We also have. Two great senators and agree congressional delegation who -- bipartisan basis will help us on this I know Rick Larsen who's on one side of this bridge. Will be pitching and as well. There is a prospect of a 918 and federal. Assistance to move forward -- senators can tell us more about that. In that regard. So I want -- Think the public for their patients in this regard. We have something -- we're gonna have to exhibit in and considerable quantity in the next. Several weeks -- -- months. And that is patients and we're gonna all have to work together to find the most. Accommodation we can to help businesses and commuters and folks. I enjoy this great state and patients is going to be the watchword. As far as the time. To restore the -- five court or. It that is indeterminate there's no way to give any good parameters of that at the moment. If some Bailey bridge temporary. Situation. Could. Become apparent. Maybe it's weeks if not there are certainly months involved. I can carry the DOT personnel -- working around the clock. To minimize that time period but it will take some time to -- -- structural problems with the bridge. If any. If -- questions about the investigation this will be -- very thorough investigation the NTSB. Group just arrived. And they -- site they would I think address -- and a few moments. We'll have a parallel investigation by Washington State. State patrol and DOT. There will be many questions we'll have as to how this incident occurred but obviously. It appears -- -- high degree of certainty to involve the collision of a truck with the bridge. Which damaged the bridge and resulted in its collapse but -- have any questions you have to be answered as to what exactly happened. Without I want to. Yield to our our senior senator Patty Murray. Governor thank you so much for giving a really -- View here -- for being on the ground immediately working with everybody and really pulling all of us together to make sure we're doing the right thing. For the people on this community in this region. And I would echo what the governor started -- what an incredible group of people on the ground here firm. 911 operators to state patrol to just regular residents to everybody else. That prevented a worst disaster from happening. Having to deal with transportation issues is difficult. It could've been a lot worse it wasn't worse because of the great folks who -- on the ground -- safety -- and everybody else who were immediately there. To prevent a further. Disaster -- my hat's -- to olive view. I want -- act command all of the state and local community leaders who are working extremely hard to make sure that they are. Helping everybody understand what the best routes are for everybody to get through these communities in the weeks or months as we work -- resolve this. And we give you all of our support as well. At the federal left -- We are working extremely hard to do everything we can to help make sure that this very important corridor is fixed -- -- -- I've been on the phone with secretary lahood a number of times now. And they are doing everything they can ask the governor told you and I just got off the phone with him few minutes ago. The check is in the mail governor for -- a bit. A million dollars to begin the -- -- him -- emergency repairs that need to happen and assessment so that we can begin to move forward quickly. As the governor mentioned they are putting all their resources in to try and find it Bailey bridge that is currently constructed. Anywhere in this country that they can move here or if they can build one that will work for and that depends -- a little bit on their assessment of the bridge and whether or not it's able to hold that. And if we have one available if that if that can occur it will mean that will be able to get that bridge opened sooner so -- -- putting a tremendous amount of effort at the federal level. To find that right now. We also are working to access our emergency relief funds. That is for an incident like this that is caused by something outside of the bridge structure. That occurs to it and sense that it appears to be the case here. We will be working very closely with secretary lahood in our federal partners in the state. To make the assessments to move forward with emergency relief front that would be really good because that is -- 90% federal -- 10% state match so. We're working aggressively to make that happen. As we move forward. Finally I just wanna say this I have the opportunity to talk to a member of the -- -- people here. Everyone wants to make sure traffic is moving on this incredibly important corridor up and down for all of the tracks in traffic that moved through here. But who's really going to be hurting in the coming weeks and months are those wonderful small businesses that are really counting on all those folks to come to their stores. The state and local communities are working hard to make sure we get people through here officially. But those businesses are open they're looking to our state and everyone to help support them at this time it's -- -- shock to you think that. So -- really care well. Thank you well I wanted to give might thanks to all the first responders for their incredible work last night in protecting. Individual Washington residents from further harm or loss of life. This certainly is a tragic accident in the collapse of this infrastructure. But there was not a collapse of our first responders they did an incredible job. And to our state patrol thank you very much for that leadership and to all the local community. I think I was on the phone with the governor within. An hour and a half of the bridge collapse and he was already on his way. So I want to thank the governor for his incredible leadership and his team. For working around the clock to address the situation and to make sure that planning was already in process. I want to thank Deborah -- men from the NTSB who is here with us who traveled out. Also to make sure that the investigation and her team of investigators -- see them with their NTSB shirts on are giving us the best available information. They can give us as quickly as possible about the cause of this incidence. And what else that we need to do to respond to it. I too talked to secretary lahood that I think for thirty it's -- the West Coast time seven -- East Coast time this morning. He and Jon Karl who is heads up the freight mobility aspect of the Washington Department of Transportation. They told me they had already been working all night so I want to thank US DOT for working with secretary Peterson. And others on the planning. The -- valuation of that current. Structure its design and what the alternatives are for replacing it. As the governor said in senator Murray they are looking at a very and a variety of ideas of Bailey bridge in the short term. Rebuilding the existing structure in in the short term. Or other concepts that they are trying to get the best plans in place. Secretary and Jon -- also mentioned they are working with the Coast Guard and EPA on expedited review so that we -- not going to get hung up on a lot of environmental issues. In the process. And on the commitment to help us with emergency relief funds which congress just recently passed legislation related to see -- -- that put more money into the relief fund. So hopefully that was funds would be easy to access. Four Washington State give in this incredible incident and its impact on our economy. When I five it. Louis county was closed for four days it cost us about 47 million dollars. When I ninety is closed because of a snow impasse it costs us millions of dollars. So the question here everybody's working hard on now is to say how can we minimize the economic impact to the state of Washington. Which everybody in Washington State and certainly here in Skagit county knows that we are -- -- of trade and commerce between US and Canada. This is one of the busiest crossings in the entire United States and if it's closed it will impact economic. Economic commerce between our two countries so. Everybody's working around the clock to come up with the best -- to mitigate those circumstances and to get the best planned to replace. That -- -- spanned over. I five as quickly as possible so thanks to everybody for their hard work to the local community to a commissioner -- -- -- also talked to last night. Who are just doing everything to make sure that. That we get the right answers as quickly as possible so thank you governor for your leadership -- thank you -- -- for your transportation leadership. -- -- -- Thank you like to wanna thank god our first responders site that care about 4:30 this morning and -- -- working hard -- been here. All night and have done an incredible incredible job and it's incredibly -- -- that we always remind them and thank them for that great work. And for the great teamwork and how quickly they pulled together and made this disaster much less of a tragedy than it could've been. This is the bridge is the border between the first and the second congressional district and I've been working closely with congressman Larson as we work hard to. Helped put together solution with -- senators and local and state government so that we can get. A solution put together and have this bridge put back up and get this road to come back together as quickly as possible. -- we have over -- -- 1000 people estimated to travel on this bridge every day. And about 12% of that traffic is commercial traffic on trucks. And so freight is incredibly important but even on a holiday weekend as we see coming up we're -- redundancy and would normally -- greater traffic so it's. Some -- to local economic activity to the economic activity of our region. And it's incumbent on all of us to do the best we can -- -- picture we have a quick solution. Are at solution that we can put together as quickly as possible -- -- again want to thank everyone -- on -- -- the great work some of our senators the governor. His staff and and all of that precious undersea -- -- so hard as we continue to work as a team tends to come up with an answer. Moving forward thinking. Thank you just or -- mineral stand your questions this is multiple jurisdictions senator Steve Hobbs I believe -- here today. We've already had several legislators on the scene I know we're gonna have. A bipartisan. Approach to this commissioner -- a Skagit county. We're -- all jurisdictions pitching and on this. So we are happy stand for questions in Lynn Peterson our secretary of transportation is available as well as chief -- Washington State Patrol. But I think that's -- Well we're gonna find that out -- had we're explore all meaningful issues associated. With this bridge. Frankly right now we are focused -- wouldn't -- -- Monday tours at the moment that's where are our energies are focused and and they are focused we we literally just came from an incident command -- Where we talked about some alternatives for alternative detours to perhaps dissipate. And segregate some of it the traffic. So it's too early for meters from me or anyone else probably to tell you how. Realistic that will become. But I can assure you -- -- looking at all possible options to add anything in this. That's what -- here. -- -- Well you know. We are try to assure all possible safety from orders and -- Washington. We have a robust inspection plan to -- these bridges this bridge was inspected. Twice last year. -- skilled. Escorted -- 47 out of a hundred. The term functionally obsolete basically means if it was built today it would be built to different specifications. The situation in this particular situation is we had a collision between a very heavy vehicle traveling. Probably -- not have small amount of speed crashed in not just -- -- probably multiple girders on the bridge and it failed. We're gonna do everything we can to learn if -- already lessons from this. But the one -- I think we should know right now is. We want to discourage drivers from crashing their trucks into state bridges. And that is a lesson that we've got to realize right now but we're gonna have a very thorough evaluation of this it's great to have the NTSB expertise on the scene. To help -- have another set of lies in their expertise on this -- if there are lessons that we can apply to any other bridges we certainly will do that. And we are not on mindful of the need of infrastructure improvements across the state -- Washington. So we have posted on line -- last two inspections one was the actual. -- inspection the there was. A member on opposite side. Of the bridge from the one that the stand this. Failed. Was hits and it was repaired and we did some other inspection repair at that time and those are both on the website for you to be able to look at. As. Other types of bridges we you take -- son almost every single one of our bridges and make repairs as needed this is just. And bad luck of where it hit and how a hit and if it's basically not a structural deficiency within the bridge itself. At the bottom line. Based based on our inspections. At the bridges not structurally deficient. Yes. Yes. Yes. Technical term municipal. And it actually we've posted those definitions on our web site as well. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- So what I can tell you right now it is that -- And I want to reiterate over and over that we do meet the national standards for inspection of -- bridges. Now weaknesses that national centers of biannual. Inspection. We have. In the past and we will do again that if there is any finding. Their bridges unsafe we will close the bridge and we have done that in the past and I will do it again if necessary. And if you would like more information on all of those statistics. And -- in our -- notebook which is the performance measures for the entire state performance system on me bridge assessment means. The -- for the entire state which is on the land. And -- kind of workers -- -- was just. I'm yesterday do that we a lot of questions here few would raise your hands illustrator recommends people one at a time estimates. So it. Not being after -- specifically -- this type of bridge. And in terms of temporary. We will be assessing its capability. -- the ability to replace or put a temporary -- -- With any other -- said. That is ongoing right now as we speak we hope to have an answer in the next 24 to 48 hours but a lot of this is. Contingent upon -- the investigation. Both by our folks and by NTSB. Based on whether there's any damage to that pierce. From the collapse of the bridge if there's damaged appears that we have different situation. Sure you know. Keep in mind this is and it was his corner. He was -- -- My folks have taken a look at that permit. It's been determined at this time -- what -- he was actually in compliance. Associated with that from him but he wasn't about issues. Won't permit allows him to proceed on the roadways. There -- instructions provided to permit holder on the permit. That establishes obligations for them to -- -- two. Will be getting that information. Out is part of the investigation. Of what was actually permanent and all of that but I think. That. Yeah I'm but. It is it's kind of complicated and we're working through that at this time that's. He would not have been issued a bridge -- if he wasn't within the dimensions that are. Proved under national standards. Just her word and try to recognize people so we don't have a mob -- here. Well we need to obviously do the work we need for maintenance and we know we have. Considerable maintenance needs on our roads and bridges across the state. Our legislature now working hopefully -- a bipartisan fashion to have a package actually make investments in the hundreds of millions of dollars. To take care of some of the deferred maintenance on our roads and bridges. But no I don't think. That we should obviate the the benefits people are having getting to work on buses. And a light rail and on trains and on bicycles and walking in single occupancy vehicles and hov we need to have a more time mortal system. All of these things are important. I'm very hopeful the legislature will address these needs this year. And -- national standards and our Aaron stand necessary even more conservative. There are certain heights and bridges where we do not mean to sign. And in this would've been one of those. Purchase. -- -- I'm going to address something at the risk. I'm a governor used to practice law for about -- years so bear with me for a second. This is an accident that is under investigation he will have. Huge resources associated with its investigation. There are hundreds of questions that none of us have answers to that we can answer today. From my limited knowledge of this situation. Today the the obligations of the state. Are ones that -- compliance with some federal standards. From the information I've been giving. It would suggest that the state bridge was in compliance with federal standards regarding signing. The legal ramifications. Of being issued a permit or ones that we're gonna all have to explore as time goes on. Can't I just think -- six and a half million washingtonians that I represent. We're all gonna have to stay tuned frankly and watch this investigation before we make conclusions about responsibility for this accident. That's the best advice I can give -- to go around the room sort of this right. -- -- We do you -- come from. At work at this point we're only looking at the expand and that failed. So and it would be if it's totally replaced and not a temporary bridge it would be have built to the standards that were. In place at that time. Based on based on the design of the bridge that we happen. Says at this point and now under current fiscal constraints. There is no intent at this point to rebuild the entire bridge. We're gonna keep going around this -- -- -- Through. So because it's not structurally deficient which means that it -- It's not in a point where would be feeling -- cracked or with any kind of hit. It it's not a failing grade in terms. The life expectancy of the bridges is where it should be in terms of -- life expectancy and -- a lot of bridges with a lot. Lower rating in our system and 95 itself that are actually higher prairie -- place. Because -- Their importance to the system because of their seismic -- because of their age they're much much older including the Columbia River crossing. Which is actually maintained by -- organ and does not show up in our -- notebook and in terms are our assessment of our bridges because. Pour in maintain separate each -- jointly owned. Yes freaking -- analyst and and posted to the web site. We're gonna keep going around the -- -- -- have good civilized -- good civilized discussion excuse -- -- have. Washington -- -- -- -- bridge. -- Yes. Go back. -- So the Minnesota bridge -- a specific added designing half fly with it and there were. -- national. Best practices that were put out there and we have been following us and -- about halfway through. Our inspection and maintenance of the bridges that would meet those standards -- specific -- -- plate type. We're -- achievement -- Minnesota many ambassador. -- -- -- -- -- In our administrative -- -- solely on interior. Once the permit is issued. On the driver. Is what she's saying that mining operator the operator of the vehicle maintains responsibility for safe passage. It's part of our administrative code it's what they understand when -- -- for the permit. -- It because it is not below that. At and at the at the fog line where it's measured at the outside fog going where it's measured it was not -- that are. The bridge is actually. I have to pull out my notes to make sure a better rate. 156. When the -- -- make -- comment here. This is a team that's been working to assure the safety of the people of the state. We've been working to try to maintain and an increase mobility on the court or. We have not been in a position. Nor should we be in trying to look at the blame issue -- legal responsibilities. There will be much time for that. That will be done in great detail will be forthcoming about the evidence as we receive it. And we'll have many times to to talk about those issues yeah. Network to more question. I don't know that. Again that's something that will be looked -- in the course of this investigation. But I don't have the answers about. We're not -- the fault is on anyone we're saying the matter is under investigation. -- -- driver is an element in terms of being a part of the investigation shall certainly we're looking at. Activities associated with the driver. The equipment that he was operating sold -- in its entirety the matter is under investigation. Not that I can speak not -- and speak to at this moment. I think -- the important aspect tears that is under investigation. And as there are certain laws on the book administrative -- that's on the -- And there is actual what happened -- sun. Bridge itself and we want to make sure that the traveling public is safe. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that that is -- case we do have a target zero. And in 2030 that there be no fatalities on the road we do not take that lightly. And so in this teens working very hard. To make sure that's not only do we make sure that the communities. I get up and running that we have net minimal impact to those communities that that we thoroughly investigate this. And that we implement anything that comes out of the -- investigation. And we will move forward. As quickly as possible to make sure that the traveling public is safe in terms. Any sort. Rules and regulations -- -- I do not. And why you. -- -- As I reiterated earlier if we count on anything that would cause us to feel that they bridge was and -- -- structurally deficient position we would shut down the bridge we would either repair or place. And then we would reopen as soon as possible just like we're doing here. We're gonna word era probably need do to move on -- -- wanna talk canister get a striker closing comment. In the days to come. All of us and stay in Washington are going to be needed to work together to -- out some solutions to restore this quarter -- -- you've heard how economically it's vital to economic recovery for our state we're still. Working on that recovery. I want to ask everyone in the state of Washington to help in some fashion in that effort. Senators county commissioners legislators governors citizens will be working. I want to ask those. Who were in the media to assist in that in some regard. You'll be very useful to help disseminate information to citizens on how to go about their business and get from point need to be. We hope that you helped disseminate that information. -- a lot of times -- talk about the specifics of this incident. We will be focused on getting people to work and back. And to their soccer games and thank you very much. You're watching a news conference by governor Jay in -- of Seattle and some other state officials -- talking about. They need for a temporary structure to fix that bridge that collapsed. After an accident. They do say the state is looking for a temporary. Bridge. And a temporary fix until they can reconstruct -- they do not have the money to replace the entire thing they -- hoping to. Reconstruct the portion there that is damaged and if you were called the accident happened. Last night at about 7 o'clock an eighteen Wheeler -- bearing an oversize load. Struck a support -- -- cracking good range in two and we just heard from an official that it happened in just the right place to cause. That amount of damage now there were no fatalities fortunately in this incident but. Several vehicles did crash into the water two cars did. Those people inside however survive the bridges on interstate five it crosses the Skagit river about sixty miles north. Of Seattle there is no timetable. For fixing. This bridge at this point the governor said there have a detour in place and there -- -- proving that tour. So that people can go through an estimated 81000. People travel on that bridge every day 20% of that. Traffic is commercial vehicles and there's a lot of concern. For businesses that are serviced by that bridge in terms of getting -- goods and supplies and of course were heading into Memorial Day weekend. And there's a concern the businesses that were hoping to be hopping. For Memorial Day and Memorial Day weekend. In fact suffer because of the bridge we are waiting at this point. For at and TI NTSB spokesperson Deborah -- -- to give us an update on the investigation. Into the bridge and we will come back as soon as that happens. This has been a special report from ABC news --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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