Thursday afternoon, a heavy-duty truck rolled off the causeway with its giant crane properly stowed. Emergency crews used the truck to pull a similarly big dump truck from the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain.
Causeway Commission General Manager Carlton Dufrechou says crews had to make sure the response truck was properly situated on the bridge so the southbound span wouldn’t be compromised from the extreme weight.
Moments after the response truck rolled off the bridge, a flatbed semi followed with the disfigured. Traffic on the bridge was closed in both directions for hours Thursday afternoon while the work was underway.
By 3:30, traffic was once again flowing freely in both directions, but the case wasn’t closed.
“Unfortunately the driver was not in the vehicle when it was recovered. The search continues for him right now,” Dufrechou said.
The dump truck crashed Wednesday night after it caught fire, took out a stretch of the bridge’s guard rails, and flipped into the lake, landing upside down.
“There was definitely a fire. Whether or not there was an explosion is still questionable,” Dufrechou said.
Rain hampered attempts to locate the truck and check for its driver Wednesday night. Thursday morning, boats headed out from the boat launch at Bonnabel in Metairie and quickly located the truck but found no driver in the crushed cab.
Causeway workers checked surveillance video and found the truck going through the southbound toll plaza. They were able to determine who owned it.
Thursday morning, that owner confirmed it was his truck. He also told police the name of the driver. As of Thursday night, the Causeway Commission and police had not released the driver’s name.
The search for the driver was expected to resume Friday morning.