All Hands On Deck: Rescuers Form Human Chain After Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse

A human chain formed to rescue several people from a bus left suspended after a two-lane Pittsburgh bridge collapsed that resulted in at least 10 injuries on Friday morning ahead of President Biden’s visit to the city to speak on infrastructure.

Alongside the human chain to the bus, which was on the 50-year-old bridge when it collapsed, rescuers repelled about 150 feet to save passengers who were stranded in the vehicle, which was balancing on the remnants of part of the bridge. 

No deaths were reported by authorities who used drones to verify that no one was crushed by the bridge’s collapse, though 10 people had minor injuries with three being sent to the hospital. Pittsburgh Public Safety told the public to avoid the area. 

“There was a boom, then a monster sound,” local resident Melissa Bakth told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It was so loud, and it didn’t stop. It could’ve been me. I’m on that bridge every day. It’s very, very busy.”

There were several other vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed into a ravine, according to Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones. 

“The good thing, at this point, is that there’s no fatalities,” Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey said. “We were fortunate.”

The mayor added that the incident was an example of the need for the city to be allocated resources from Biden’s infrastructure bill.

“I’ve said it before, this bipartisan infrastructure law, it’s critical to Southwest Pennsylvania and the city of Pittsburgh. We know we have bridges that we need to take care of,” he said. “At the end of the day, we could have had some serious injuries.”

The Associated Press reported that, as of 2005, the bridge saw nearly 15,000 vehicles cross every day. Last inspected in September, it has been known to be in bad shape since at least 2019. 

Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf said that his office was “monitoring the situation in Pittsburgh and prepared to provide support as needed.”

The bridge collapse came as Biden was scheduled to visit Pittsburgh on Friday to promote his infrastructure bill and talk about “strengthening the nation’s supply chains, revitalizing American manufacturing, creating good-paying, union jobs, and building a better America.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted out that Biden had learned of the bridge collapse and that they were communicating with local and state authorities. 

She added that Biden was, “grateful to the first responders who rushed to assist the drivers who were on the bridge at the time. The President will proceed with the trip planned for today and will stay in touch with officials on the ground about additional assistance we can provide.”

Some have criticized the infrastructure bill for spending money on things other than roads and bridges, such as “defending the climate” and “environmental justice.” For example, $40 million will go “to restore and protect 958 acres of aquatic and riparian habitats.”

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