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Unfinished Bridge Collapses, One Worker Missing

May 17, 1995

CLIFTON, Tenn. (AP) _ A bridge being built over the Tennessee River collapsed in a mass of twisted steel Tuesday, sending three workers plunging into the water. Two survived, but one man was missing.

Divers searched for Bill Robinson, whose safety belt had been attached to the steel structure 100 feet above the water, authorities said.

``There’s probably no question he’s down in the water with the steel,″ said Mike McKinnon, vice president of McKinnon Bridge Co., which is building the 1,000-foot span.

A fourth man in a boat near the bridge was injured, as were the two survivors. None of the three were hurt badly, authorities said.

Police Sgt. Bryan Ray said the survivors told him they saw the girders bow.

``No more did they spot that happening than there was loud noise like thunder, the metal started bending and going towards the water,″ Ray said.

The $9.9 million bridge, about 90 miles southwest of Nashville, was supposed to be finished by this fall. The steel superstructure was being put into place when the accident happened.

The search for Robinson was hampered by severe thunderstorms and lightning, as well as the danger that the remaining parts of the bridge might collapse on rescue workers.

``It’s just a twisted mass there,″ said Police Chief Richard Jerrolds.

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