Students, neighbors thankful for weather delays after nobody hurt in Pittsburgh bridge collapse

PITTSBURGH — A bridge collapsed Friday morning in Pittsburgh’s Frick Park, causing five vehicles and a Port Authority of Allegheny County bus to crash down into a ravine. Ten people suffered minor injuries, including four people who were hospitalized. Some of the people hurt were first responders who slipped and fell.

UPDATE 11:00 p.m.: “It was a really low rumble,” Ken Doyno said.

The Doynos said they had just woken up and thought they heard something strange. They looked outside and couldn’t believe the were looking at a bridge collapse. They said the broken gas line sounded like a jet engine.

“It’s crazy to me, the fact that we could have been on that bridge,” Theo Forrester said.

Forrester said he had a 2 hour delay Friday morning, meaning he didn’t board the bus at the usual time.

“There were so many ambulances. So I opened the shop and let them use the bathroom, let them have their meetings. Then they started asking for pizzas. So I made pizzas all day,” said Amy Frank with Park Pizza & Cream.

UPDATE 9:30 p.m.: The Federal Highway Administration reports Pennsylvania has the second highest number of bridges in poor condition in the country, behind only Iowa.

UPDATE 7:05 p.m.: Gov. Tom Wolf has declared a disaster proclamation following the bridge collapse.

The bridge is a major throughway for commuter traffic and the disaster declaration ensures quick response for reconstruction.

“With the Fern Hollow Bridge seeing more than 14,000 cars daily, it’s critical that we act quickly to reconstruct it so that commerce can continue, and life is not interrupted,” said Gov. Wolf. “This declaration allows us to support the county in getting to work quickly, making funding available, and reducing red tape or other barriers to completion.”

The proclamation allows state agencies to use all available resources to manage the situation.

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: President Biden posted on social media that, “Jill and I are keeping those injured in our prayers, and we’re grateful for the first responders” after visiting the bridge collapse site.

UPDATE 6:00 p.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports it is at the scene of the bridge collapse working to find out what happened.

UPDATE 5:45 p.m.: Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor just told Channel 11′s Susan Koeppen that the Fern Hollow Bridge will likely take at least two years to rebuild.

UPDATE 5:20 p.m.: After another news conference, officials with the City of Pittsburgh continued to stress how miraculous it was that nobody was killed or seriously hurt in this incident.

Fire chief Darryl Jones said there were four passenger vehicles and the Port Authority bus involved. He said they are confident there was nobody else trapped underneath, but Search and Rescue Strike Team 1 was activated to check the scene as a precaution.

“I think we were coming out on the lucky end of this thing. A half hour later the bridge would have been full,” Jones said. “But in the end, as of right now, this is just one major inconvenience.”

City councilmember Corey O’Connor said the city’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI) is reviewing the most recent inspection report in case anything was missed.

“As a city, moving forward, we have to look at what those inspections mean and get into greater detail,” he said.

Repairs were done on the bridge several years ago, including replacing some of the steel beams. O’Connor talked about the need for city leaders to review their own local standards for the status of bridges.

“We need to up our game,” he said.

“Luckily, our police, fire, medics are trained really well,” said acting Director of Public Safety Lee Schmidt. “We’re all concerned. We don’t want this to happen again.”

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Channel 11′s crew at the scene said trees were being cut down so a crane could be brought in to move the Port Authority bus what was crushed and still sitting on the bridge.

UPDATE 4:20 p.m.: President Joe Biden talked further about the bridge collapse in his official speech at Mill 19 in Hazelwood.

He said the bridge had been in poor condition for the past decade.

“It’s just simply unacceptable,” Biden said. “We have to do something about this.”

Biden said Pennsylvania will get $1.6 billion to fix and repair bridges in the state.

“The next time, we don’t need headlines saying someone was killed,” he said. “We saw today when a bridge is in disrepair it can literally threaten lives. We’re going to rebuild that bridge”

UPDATE 4:00 p.m.: Search and rescue crews from across the state are at the scene of the bridge collapse in Frick Park.

Officials said one came from Gettysburg and another came from Lancaster County. They got called at about 11 a.m.

Crews brought three dogs with them: a yellow lab and two shepherds. They were going into the park and collapse scene to have the dogs smell to make sure there’s no victims still in the area.

One of the dogs also specialized in identifying human remains just in case.

UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: We just got an update from UPMC on the status of the victims being treated from the bridge collapse.

As of 3 p.m., UPMC Presbyterian Hospital is treating 3 adult patients related to the bridge collapse in Frick Park. All are determined to be in fair condition. One additional patient was treated and released at UPMC Shadyside Hospital. We will update with any new information as necessary.

UPDATE 3:20 p.m.: In response to the Pittsburgh bridge that collapsed today, Dennis L. Martire, vice president and mid-Atlantic regional manager of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) made the following statement:

“The collapse of the Forbes Avenue Bridge in Pittsburgh is a dire reminder of the importance of President Biden’s recently signed bipartisan infrastructure law and the need to invest in our nation’s bridges. The bridge just passed the 50-year-old mark, which is the average lifespan of a bridge in our nation, and for more than a decade the bridge has been rated in ‘poor’ condition by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Bridge Inventory. The collapse injured at least 10 people. We offer our best wishes for their speedy recovery.

“The American Society of Civil Engineers grades Pennsylvania bridges a D+, with 4,173 in poor condition. Across the nation, there are 46,154 such bridges. Recently approved infrastructure investment must be put into action quickly to prevent further deterioration with potentially more tragic consequences. The hard-working men and women of LIUNA in Pittsburgh and across the country are ready, willing and able to get to work as fast as possible to protect public safety and save our bridges.”

UPDATE 3 p.m.: President Biden commented after seeing the incredible scene of destruction at the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse Friday morning.

“It’s incredible. I mean, this is -- first of all, these guys deserve an incredible amount of credit going down here. And while this was going on, they tell me the gas leak was -- explain what you said to me about the noise,” Biden said. “It’s astounding. You all realize -- I’ve been coming to Pittsburgh a long time and as a former Pennsylvanian. But I didn’t realize there are literally more bridges in Pittsburgh than in any other city in the world. Did you know? More than in Venice. I mean, I knew there are a lot of bridges. And we’re going to -- they’re going to fix them all. Not a joke. This is going to be a gigantic change. And there’s 43,000 nationwide. And we’re sending the money.”

UPDATE 2:35 p.m.: Daryl Luciani was at the wheel of a Port Authority of Allegheny County bus when the Fern Hollow Bridge collapsed beneath him Friday morning in Pittsburgh’s Frick Park.

“As soon as I got to the bridge, I can actually … as I was driving across, in my mind, I knew the bridge was collapsing. I could just feel it. The bus was bouncing and shaking,” Luciani said. “It seemed long, but it was probably less than a minute. The bus finally came to a stop. I was just, you know, thankful that nobody on the bus was hurt.”

CLICK HERE to hear his story in his own words.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: President Biden just toured the Pittsburgh bridge collapse site and talked with the officials involved in the operation. He’ll be heading to his scheduled event in Hazelwood shortly.

UPDATE 12:59 p.m.: Sources confirm to Channel 11 that President Biden will stop at the collapse site before going to his scheduled event in Hazelwood. The President landed in Pittsburgh moments ago.

UPDATE 12:32 p.m.: Rescue operations came to an end just after 8:30 a.m., but crews are still searching to make sure no one is under the collapsed bridge, Pittsburgh Public Safety officials said.

“Due to the scale of the collapse, we activated the mass casualty plan,” Chief Darryl Jones, Emergency Management Coordinator for EMA, said. “Thank you to all our partners at all levels for their assistance and work as we continue to navigate this scene.”

Response to the collapse included Allegheny County and Pennsylvania State authorities. The Pennsylvania State Police provided a UAV drone to scan the collapse site for situational awareness purposes. Ross/Westview and Baldwin EMS were also on scene.

Urban Search and Rescue was launched to search for possible people under the collapsed bridge. That’s where crews will now focus their efforts, officials said.

UPDATE 11:50 a.m.: Channel 11′s Gabriella DeLuca spoke with the driver of the PAT bus involved in the bridge collapse. He said he feels “banged up” and is getting checked out at a hospital.

UPDATE 11:40 a.m.: UPMC has updated the number of hospitalizations to four, releasing the following statement:

“As of 11:32 a.m., UPMC Presbyterian has received 3 adult patients and 1 adult patient at UPMC Shadyside related to the reported bridge collapse in Frick Park. All are determined to be in fair condition. We will update with any new information as necessary.”

UPDATE 11:25 a.m.: Frick Park is being closed for safety reasons, Pittsburgh Public Safety announced.

UPDATE 11:20 a.m.: A Department of Public Safety spokesperson updated the number of vehicles involved in the bridge collapse, saying there were five cars and one Port Authority bus.

UPDATE 11 a.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board is launching a go-team to the bridge collapse. The team is expected to arrive Friday afternoon.

UPDATE 10:55 a.m.: During his visit to Pittsburgh on Friday to talk about infrastructure, President Biden might make a stop to the site of the bridge collapse, sources told Channel 11 News.

>>RELATED STORY: Presidential visit: Expect traffic, parking restrictions while Biden is in Pittsburgh on Friday

UPDATE 10:50 a.m.: The bridge received a poor rating of 4 when it was last inspected in September 2021.

About 14,000 vehicles traveled over the bridge each day, with 7% of that considered truck traffic. The bridge had a weight restriction of 26 tons.

UPDATE 10:15 a.m.: Three of 10 people who were hurt, but not seriously, as a result of the bridge collapse were taken to Pittsburgh hospitals. UPMC provided this updated statement:

“As of 9:35 a.m., UPMC Presbyterian has received 3 adult patients determined to be in fair condition related to the reported bridge collapse in Frick Park. We will update with any new information as necessary.”

UPDATE 9:45 a.m.: Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey tweeted the following:

“Today a bridge collapsed near Forbes and S Braddock. I am thankful there are no reported fatalities or critical injuries at this time. Thank you Pittsburgh Public Safety for the quick response and thank you to the county, state, and federal governments for the cooperation and assistance.”

UPDATE 9:25 a.m.: Hours before President Joe Biden is set to speak in Pittsburgh about his infrastructure bill, the White House released the following statement about the bridge collapse:

“The President has been told of the bridge collapse in Pittsburgh. Our team is in touch with state and local officials on the ground as they continue to gather information about the cause of the collapse. The President is grateful to the first responders who rushed to assist the drivers who were on the bridge at the time. The President will proceed with trip planned for today and will stay in touch with officials on the ground about additional assistance we can provide.”

>>RELATED STORY: Presidential visit: Expect traffic, parking restrictions while Biden is in Pittsburgh on Friday

UPDATE 9:10 a.m.: Urban Search and Rescue is being deployed to make sure no one is under the collapsed bridge.

UPDATE 9:05 a.m.: Three of 10 people who were hurt, but not seriously, as a result of the bridge collapse were taken to Pittsburgh hospitals. UPMC received two patients and released the following statement:

“As of 8:55 a.m., UPMC has received 2 adult patients determined to be in fair condition related to the reported bridge collapse in Frick Park.”

UPDATE 9 a.m.: The Port Authority of Allegheny County released the following statement after one of its buses was on the bridge when it collapsed:

“At about 6:45 a.m. a Port Authority bus route 61B-Braddock-Swissvale that was headed outbound on the Fern Hollow Bridge was nearly at the East side of the bridge when the bridge began to collapse.

“The bus contained two passengers and the operator. All three were assisted off by crews at the scene. There were no injuries reported.

“We are extremely thankful that no one from the bus reported any injuries, and grateful for the first responders who risked their own lives to save others.”

UPDATE 8:40 a.m.: Ten people were hurt and three of them were taken to a hospital, Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones said. All of those injuries were minor, and some of them were first responders who slipped and fell.

There were three to four vehicles on the bridge when it collapsed.

Crews rappelled down to help people. Jones estimated they had to rappel about 100 feet.

It is unclear if anyone was under the bridge.

Because of a gas leak, several families were evacuated from their homes but have been allowed to return, according to Jones, who said gas service was restored.

UPDATE 8:30 a.m.: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf tweet the following about the bridge collapse:

“We are monitoring the situation in Pittsburgh and prepared to provide support as needed. Pittsburgh residents: Please stay safe and continue to avoid the area.”

UPDATE 8:25 a.m.: The Port Authority of Allegheny County is detouring near Frick Park.

UPDATE 8:20 a.m.: Some Pittsburgh Public Schools are moving to remote learning because of the bridge collapse. The district released the following statement:

“Due to the impact of a bridge collapse in the East End and high call-offs among bus drivers, all K-5, K-8 and 6-8 and Special Schools will transition to remote learning. High schools and 6-12 schools will continue in-person learning. The District will still operate on a 2 hour delay schedule. Pittsburgh Public Schools transportation is canceled. There will be no Grab and Go meal service available today.”

UPDATE 8:15 a.m.: The Port Authority of Allegheny County said a driver and two passengers were on the bus that was on the bridge when it collapsed. All three people are OK.

ORIGINAL STORY: A bridge collapsed Friday morning in Pittsburgh near Frick Park, causing several vehicles and a bus to crash down into a ravine, Channel 11 News has learned.

>>PHOTOS: Bridge collapse near Pittsburgh’s Frick Park

The collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge in the area of South Braddock and Forbes avenues happened shortly before 7 a.m. This is at the border of the city’s Point Breeze neighborhood.

Officials said a handful of people were on the bus and most have been rescued.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor said a handful of people were on the Port Authority of Allegheny County bus and most have been rescued.

No fatalities have been reported.

There was strong smell of natural gas in the area, Pittsburgh Public Safety officials said. The gas line was cut as a result.

Stay with Channel 11 News and WPXI.com for updates.