One dead in 18 wheeler accident on I-10 bridge

Published: May. 23, 2006 at 1:05 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2006 at 8:55 PM CDT
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Reported by KPLC Staff

Two 18 wheelers owned by Supplier Services, LLC, a subsidiary of Dunham Price, were on their way to Westlake from Kinder carrying sand when the unthinkable happened.

"Just both of them flew off the side of the interstate," witness Eric Trahan said. "And on the ground was just a big ball of fire. So I came over here, I pulled one guy out, he was already deceased and the other guy was laid out in the sand by one of the 18 wheelers."

Jack C. Powell, 63, of Vinton is dead after the two 18 wheelers went over the right guardrail on the I-10 bridge, according to Lake Charles Police.  Lolly J. Comeaux, 53, of Westlake is in a local hospital with moderate injuries and burns.

According to Lake Charles Police, Powell was headed westbound in the right hand lane when he saw a cab owned by Big Red's Cab stopped on the bridge.  When Powell started to move into the left lane he struck Comeaux's truck.  Both trucks hit the center concrete barrier and then ricocheted over the edge of the bridge.

Comeaux and Powell were both transported to local hospitals.  Powell died at a local hospital from his injuries.

It was a natural reaction for Trahan to rescue the drivers from the rumble, shocked to see anyone could survive the 35 foot fall from the I-10 bridge.

"That's a good fall," Trahan said. "I don't see how he survived."

What started as a peaceful day of fishing for Sharon Carney ended with a near death experience. "I heard something go blam, like a truck hitting another truck," she said. "Then, I heard an explosion and I started running towards the end of the warf, to jump into the water. I was afraid they were going to land on me."

It all started around 8:45 this morning when the trucks fell about 35 feet into a boat dock and parking lot.  One of the tanker's diesel tanks exploded after impact. Officers at the scene say the trucks tore off about a 40 foot chunk off the rails on one side of the bridge.  If they had fallen just 25 feet farther, this would've been a water rescue.

"This was on land and we were able to get to the victims," David Manuel with the Lake Charles Fire Department said. "If this had been in the water, there would have been a panic about trying to get to them because a vehicle would've been submerged in water."

Rescuers say they've never seen anything like this mangled mess. "I was very scared and I'm still shaking."

Sharon Carney was fishing underneath the bridge when the accident happened.  "I could hear the screeching of the metal and the bridge was crumbling," she said. "The concrete was flying toward me and that's why I began to run toward the end of the pier."

Eric Trahan saw the accident happen and pulled one of the drivers out of the wreckage.  "Just a big puff of smoke, big black smoke," he said. "That's all it was. That's all you could see after the truck went off the bridge just a big black cloud."

Rescue crews say they've never seen anything like this accident.

Another accident occurred after the trucks had crashed off the bridge.  A third truck, also owned by Suppliers Services, was also traveling westbound and hit the stalled cab.  The cab driver was transported to a local hospital with minor to moderate injuries.


Tell us what scary or dangerous experiences you've had on I-10 or I-210 bridges on the 7 Newsroom Blog.