Truck Driver Dies After Rig Crashes off Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel During High Winds

The death of a truck driver whose rig was blown off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel on Thursday has again highlighted the dangers of the 23-mile span.

Joseph Chen, 47, of Greenville, N.C., died as he was transported to the hospital after being rescued by a U.S. Navy helicopter, the Virginian-Pilot reported.

His tractor-trailer went off the southbound part of the bridge during windy weather shortly before 12:30 p.m. near the Eastern Shore section of the bridge-tunnel.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel crosses the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and is an exposed place which has a bad record for trucks going into the water.

According to Virginian-Pilot archives 10 vehicles – seven of them trucks and three cars – went over the side of the bridge-tunnel between 1964 and 2011. Only one person survived.

Last year, a truck driver from Wachapreague on the Eastern Shore crashed off the bridge-tunnel when he was trying to pass a slower vehicle. He survived the ordeal.

In 2014, a driver drowned closed to the CBBT after his truck collided with a maintenance vehicle, jackknifed and ran off the bridge.

Our thoughts are with the family of Mr. Chen. High winds are believed to be a factor in the latest tragedy.

Officials declared a Level 1 wind advisory shortly before the crash, with winds over 40 mph.

At Level 1, camper trailers and other towed cargo are not allowed to cross the bridge-tunnel.

Thirty minutes after the crash, bridge restrictions were increased to Level 2, as winds reached speeds of over 47 mph. To cross during a Level 2, trucks must be loaded with more than 30,000 pounds of cargo.

A report on spoke to Charles Lattimore, a trucker from Chesapeake, who said he cleared to cross before he learned of the crash on the radio, along with 30 other truckers. He was driving to Norfolk, but pulled over a mile north of the bridge-tunnel. He was concerned his truck would be too light.

Truckers do a dangerous job. A recent survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found trucking to be the eighth most dangerous profession in America.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a wreck involving a truck, we would like to hear from you. We represent people on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and in Hampton Roads. Please contact our Virginia trucking accident lawyers at (757) 455-0077.

Bill O'Mara


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