170102-nrr-bridgecrash

This 2002 Kia sport utility vehicle was traveling southbound on Interstate 5 when the driver lost control and crashed on the bridge crossing the South Umpqua River near milepost 112 in early January.

Photo Courtesy Oregon State Police

The Oregon Department of Transportation is putting a chain link fence along the Interstate 5 bridge near Myrtle Creek where two women climbed over the barrier and fell to their death earlier this year.

The 2-foot-tall fence will be placed on the inside barrier of both northbound and southbound lanes and is expected to be in place by Oct. 15, according to ODOT District Manager Darrin Neavoll.

In early January, two women were traveling south on Interstate 5 in a 2002 Kia sport utility vehicle when the driver lost control and slid into the concrete barrier that spans the bridge over the South Umpqua River near milepost 112. After the crash, the two women got out of the vehicle and reported the incident to police.

While on the phone with emergency dispatchers, the women said a truck was driving toward them and that they needed to get off of the roadway.

Before dispatchers could object, the two women climbed over the bridge railing and fell to their death. The women were later identified as Amanda J. Fuller, 32, of Roseburg, and Stephanie N. Thomas, 29, of San Bernardino, California.

A similar situation occurred in 1997 when a Coos Bay woman fell from the bridge after surviving a car crash.

Neavoll said the fence is intended to keep people from climbing over the barrier and to warn people that a gap exists between the highway’s lanes.

No signs will be put in the area.

“I wouldn’t say the fence restricts people because people can still climb over it, but it lets people know (there’s a gap) so hopefully they don’t jump over the barrier,” Neavoll said.

He added that the gap between the two lanes is more narrow on that bridge where the two women recently died compared to other bridges in the state.

Neavoll said bridges with a wider gap allow more light to shine through, making it easier to tell whether there is a drop-off.

“This one is a little unique because it’s really narrow between the two lanes,” he said.

Fuller’s mother, along with a first responder who was at the scene of the 1997 crash, lobbied ODOT to add the fence.

Transportation officials waited for the police report to be released, which included a toxicology report, but Neavoll said ODOT wanted to move forward either way.

The fence will cost $63,000 and will be constructed by HP Civil Inc., a highway contractor headquartered in Stayton.

Ian Campbell can be reached at ian@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4209. Or follow him on Twitter @MrCampbell17.

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Managing Editor

Ian Campbell is the managing editor for The News-Review, a former senior editor at the Emerald Media Group and a camping fanatic. Follow him on Twitter @MrCampbell17

(3) comments

Mogie

I would have thought that proper lighting would be a good solution. You would have lighting in case something happened again and also for the autos using the road. Even a form of solar lighting would be better then nothing.

bbgurrl

this was so shocking and sad when it happened. it's also infuriating that it had happened before and no measures were taken to safeguard the future public, which was obviously a blunder. Now, this little fence seems like too little too late. Absolutely horrific and mortally overdue.

Mogie

Just shows the importance of always carrying a flashlight.

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