Bridge Inspector Killed When Truck Tips on I-84 Ramp in West Hartford

A worker performing a routine bridge inspection for the state Department of Transportation was killed when his truck tipped over and crushed him on a West Hartford entrance ramp on Wednesday.

Police and DOT officials said William Shook, 43, of Middlefield, was killed while using a snooper truck, which has an arm and bucket that hangs down below the bridge, to inspect part of the exit 43 entrance ramp from Park Road to Interstate 84 eastbound.

Shook was standing between the truck and the bridge railing, retracting the truck's arm, when the 62,000-pound snooper truck tipped over and crushed him, officials. No one was in the bucket at the time.

Footage from the scene shows the truck hanging upside down over the edge of the ramp. Police closed the on-ramp to I-84 East and said it could remain shut down for a while. As of Thursday morning, it remains closed and equipment is being transported from Virginia to remove the vehicle.

"We don't know what the boom will do. The fluid has been leaking out of it, so it may rotate; it may do a lot of things," West Hartford Asst. Fire Chief Richard Winn said on Wednesday. "That's the concern, make sure it stays stable."

Investigators from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration have responded, along with hazmat crews from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

"There's some kind of fluid leaking into the Trout Brook, more than likely hydraulic fluid, but we put booms in place so they collect that, and there's an environmental collector on scene now who is going to take care of that," Winn said.

This was the second bridge inspection incident in two days. Firefighters rescued workers on Tuesday after the bucket of a snooper truck owned by the same company got stuck hanging over the side of the Gold Star Bridge in Groton.

DOT officials said McClain & Co., a subcontractor out of Virginia, was involved in both incidents. The state has suspended all services with the company as a safety precaution.

"They're going to have to do the investigation to find out what went wrong. Two incidents in two days; I guess the prudent thing would be to suspend them until you find out exactly what happened," Winn said.

McClain & Co. declined to comment on the situation Wednesday.

I-84 westbound was closed briefly between exits 42 and 43 in West Hartford on Wednesday night, but the highway has reopened, according to the DOT.

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