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American Towman Magazine Presents the Week in TowingMay 15 - May 21, 2019

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

0 36190by Jim "Buck" Sorrenti

A semi collided with a car on the Roosevelt Bridge over Lake Texoma in Bryan County, Oklahoma, in June 2018. The bridge that connects Bryan and Marshall counties and U.S. Highway 70 were closed in both directions, while divers searched for the driver of the tractor-trailer rig that plunged into the lake following the deadly crash.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol said the car burst into flames on the bridge and the driver was dead at the scene while the truck went into the lake and was fully submerged.

The car had crossed the center line and hit the semi head on causing the truck to lose control and go over the side of the bridge into the water. Both of the drivers were killed.

Farrington Towing & Recovery of Oklahoma City was called to handle the recovery. Thomas "Tom" Wayne Hall is the president of the company.

Hall informed, "This wreck happened at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday June 21, 2018 on Hwy 70 over Lake Texoma. Jordan Powell with ECI (Environmental Cleanup Inc.) was contacted to clean up the hazmat load.

"The trailer was loaded with 32,000-pounds of paint and paint products. Jordan contacted Randy Seright to be in charge of the recovery of the truck and trailer. Randy is the director of operations for our company."

Farrington arrived on scene the next day to assess the situation. The truck had gone off the bridge 40-feet above the water, 500-feet from the shore and coming to rest 60-feet below the surface.

A task force was set up with OHP, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency. In the first meeting it was discussed how to perform the recovery of truck and trailer.

"Our plan was to put a heavy-duty wrecker on the bridge and perform operations directly above the truck," Hall explained. "ODOT would not allow any bridge work. Our second plan was to set up on the road 500 feet from the truck and winch to the shore line to retrieve the body.

"EPA was in command and made the decision to put divers in the water, use air bags to lift the truck off the bottom of the lake and use barges to pull to the Catfish Cove boat ramp."

Due to weather issues and high winds divers were unable to float the truck. EPA was losing patience with the lack of progress and informed all on-site personnel if there were not any positive results they would shut down operations, Federalize the operation and bring in a heavy barge with a crane and Navy divers to complete the job.

On the evening of June 25, Farrington Towing was given authority to conduct the recovery from the shore.

Hall and Seright, responded with a 2008 Peterbilt with a Vulcan V100 50-ton side pull heavy and a 2016 Peterbilt V70 35-ton heavy.

"During the actual recovery we only had one truck winching; there wasn't enough room for two," Seright explained. "Tom was on the controls of the V100 while I was in charge of the lines. Due to the distance involved we had five 100-foot 7/8 chokers made up."

Once the truck was recovered to the shore, Shane's Wrecker was called to assist with their 2014 Peterbilt with a Century 1150 50-ton rotator.

Since it was 60-feet below the surface they had to use certified divers to rig it up. Kevin Roberts, Clayton Hunt, Chase Hunt and Matt Jobe were the divers that handled the underwater chores and did the rigging.

"Within seven hours the truck and trailer were recovered and the body successfully recovered by the Bryan County Fire Department, stated Seright. "Within 24 hours from the start of operations we had the truck and trailer out of the water loaded on a trailer and taken to a storage yard.

"I am very proud to be a part of the successful operation against all odds. I think this exemplifies the Oklahoma can do attitude. We had several occasions we could have stopped operations and not be embarrassed."

Thanks to the Oklahoma "Can Do" spirit, this was some amazing work performed by all involved!

Our prayers go out to the families of the deceased.

Show Yours @ TIW
Do you have a recovery to share with TIW readers? Send some pics and info to our Field Editor Jim "Buck" Sorrenti at ; your story may even be selected for print in American Towman magazine!
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