DOT to add safety fence after I-440 accident


Carroll Lee Eames Jr. died Nov. 27 after he leapt over a barrier to avoid oncoming traffic. He had stopped to assist victims of a three-car accident on the westbound I-440 bridge over Crabtree Creek.

Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said the department still is investigating the accident - and conducting a study of bridge crossings across the state - but will proceed with the security fence out of an abundance of caution.

“We regret that this terrible accident occurred and we’ll do whatever we can to prevent another such tragedy, here or anywhere else across the state,” Conti said in a speech to the Crabtree Rotary Club Thursday.

Eames fell through a gap between the bridges on east and westbound I-440 over the creek. Conti said the DOT had installed a security fence on the inner bridge after another fatal fall in 2005 but decided at the time that a second fence was not necessary.

The DOT said State Highway Administrator Terry Gibson has ordered a study of bridges across the state to determine whether more safety hazards exist. The staff also is looking at policies in other states.

“Preliminary data indicated that this is not a statewide problem,” Gibson said. “However, due to the fact that we have experienced two pedestrian fatalities at this structure since 2005, it would be prudent to go ahead and install protective fencing at this location.”

The fence is expected to cost up to $50,000 and to be installed by February 1.

Eames' family has told ABC11 Eyewitness News that it cannot afford his funeral - even though it's being provided at cost. They've set up a fund at RBC Bank in his name: Carroll Lee Eames Jr. Any additional money will go to Eames' 10-year-old daughter Ocean.

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