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Cooperation Key In Coast Guard Investigation Of Mathews Bridge Ship Strike

U.S. Navy

It could be a while before anyone knows exactly how and why a cargo ship hit the Mathews Bridge Thursday afternoon, closing it to traffic indefinitely.

The U.S. Coast Guard is heading up the investigation into the accident. Petty Officer First Class Lauren Jorgensen says officials are in the very earliest stages of figuring out what happened and who’s to blame.

“The drug and alcohol testing has been completed and the investigators have been interviewing the crew to determine who was directly involved and any witnesses that were there," she said.

"One great thing about this investigation is that so far everyone we have been working with has been very cooperative."

Thankfully, Jergensen said, major collisions like this one are rare.

“I don’t think there’s actual regulations but as far as being a licensed captain, captains should know the height of the vessel they’re, you know for the tugs, the height of the vessel that they’re towing and whether or not those will fit underneath the bridge," she said.

The Florida Department of Transportation is responsible for determining the extent of the damage to the Mathews Bridge. FDOT engineers began the process to assess the damage on Friday morning.

The accident happened around 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon as the USNS Harry L. Martin was being towed under the bridge.

You can follow Cyd on Twitter @cydwjctnews.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.