Barge pilot slept little in days before deadly bridge crash

Friday, May 31, 2002

WEBBERS FALLS, Okla. -- The towboat pilot whose barge struck an interstate highway bridge, killing 14 people, had slept a total of less than 10 hours in the two days before the accident, a federal investigator said Thursday. But investigator Ken Suydam said the National Transportation Safety Board has not concluded that lack of sleep contributed to the crash Sunday morning.

A barge that was being pushed by the towboat hit the Interstate 40 bridge over the Arkansas River and knocked out a 500-foot section of the span, sending several vehicles into the water. The towboat captain, Joe Dedmon, told authorities he blacked out just before the crash.

Dedmon slept a total of just 9 1/2 hours after waking Friday afternoon. That included six hours the night before the crash.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: