WASHINGTON -- A federal safety board plans a hearing today on a construction accident that killed a family that had just moved from Connecticut when a 40-ton steel girder sagged onto a Denver-area freeway and sheared off the top of their SUV.
The National Transportation Safety Board in Washington will examine why the girder collapsed, who was overseeing construction safety, and other questions surrounding the May 15, 2004, accident on Interstate 70 in Golden, just west of Denver.
The girder had been fastened with temporary braces to an existing bridge when it gave way. William Post, his pregnant wife, Anita, and their daughter, Koby Anne, 2, were killed instantly. They had just moved to Evergreen, Colo., from Norwalk, Conn.
NTSB spokeswoman Lauren Peduzzi said investigators were particularly interested in how much the on-site supervisors should have been involved and the state's oversight of the contractors.
NTSB documents released this year said dozens of people, including a bridge engineer with the Colorado Department of Transportation, noticed the girder was buckling shortly before it collapsed. One called 911, but the dispatcher relayed the message as a ``hanging sign" instead of a structural beam, officials said. An investigation determined that the workers had installed the 100-foot beam backward because it was incorrectly marked at the foundry. They turned it around but ran out of time to finish the job, so they attached it with temporary braces.
Four of the five temporary braces were found bent after the collapse. The ends of the girder were not fastened to the bridge. After the accident, the state began requiring daily inspections of girders by contractors and state officials during transportation construction projects. The state and two contractors agreed to pay $1.5 million to the Post's relatives.