Silver Bridge Disaster

Charleston Gazette
December 16, 1967

'I Looked Up...the Bridge Disappeared,' Teachers Says

Point Pleasant (AP) - "I looked up and it was gone. There was nothing, nothing at all. The whole bridge had disappeared into the river."

High school teacher Todd Mayes of Point Pleasant was about to turn onto the ramp at the Ohio end of the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River, just seconds after it collapsed.

"Traffic was bumper-to-bumper," the 25-year-old Mayes said in a telephone interview from his Point Pleasant home. "I don't know how many cars were on it, but traffic stretched all the way across the bridge."

Mayes said he is normally on the bridge by 5 p.m. He teaches a class in Ohio to children who are unable to attend school because of disabilities and the class ends at 16 minutes to 5.

"My class isn't more than five minutes from the bridge. But I stopped at a garage near the bridge ramp today to get a can of touchup paint for the car. I could have been on that bridge.

"The superstructure of the bridge must have all those cars and trucks pinned underneath it," he said. "The only thing floating was a trailer truck, floating down river. And I guess there was a truck driver in the cab.

"You know, the land juts out under the bridge on the Ohio side and lots of cars and trucks and steel and cement were down there. It was hard to see people, but I could hear them yelling and moaning.

"I tried to help two people brought up. One guy's head was badly cut and the other guy was cut on the head and body.

"There's nothing left," said Mayes, who has been teaching at Kyger Creek High School for one year. "The only thing you can see is the pier on the Ohio side and the pier over on the West Virginia side.

Mrs. Nancy Mayes, Todd's mother, said "I get the shivers when I think of it. Todd always gets home just after 5 o'clock. He could have been on it today.


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