Close call: Concrete falls from Akron bridge, smashing driver’s windshield

AKRON -- A Canal Fulton man was traveling southbound on Interstate 77 in Akron on Friday when a large chunk of concrete fell from the East Avenue bridge onto his SUV.

Len Brown, 55, told FOX 8, “All of the sudden, there was like just a giant explosion in the car. Glass and dust were just flying everywhere and it really got my adrenaline pumping.”

Brown initially thought someone had thrown a large rock at his vehicle, but then he discovered a chunk of cement drainage tubing that appeared to have been shaken loose from the bridge.

“I just feel very blessed and lucky that, you know, that I wasn't killed by it. If I were going just a little slower, and if I had a passenger with me, that thing would have come right through the window and definitely killed my passenger; I feel sure of it,” said Brown.

An Akron police officer who responded to the scene told Brown about a December 3 accident involving a bulldozer being pulled on a tractor trailer, that slammed into the underside of the same bridge.

On that day, ODOT was forced to shut down the highway and re-opened it after inspectors concluded it was safe.

On Monday, ODOT confirmed the debris that hit Len Brown’s vehicle fell from the bridge on Friday, and, according to spokesman Brent Kovacs, “Our inspectors went out as soon as we heard about it; there are no further concerns about this bridge.”

But Len Brown says ODOT had a duty to make sure the bridge was safe after the accident on December 3. “The bridge was inspected and, I mean, not to disrespect the hardworking men and women of ODOT, but something got missed. You need to take a little extra care when you're doing those inspections to make sure that everything is buttoned up before we open it to the public,” he said.

Brown says he plans to hire an attorney to handle his claim against the State of Ohio for the damage done to his vehicle..

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