THE heartbroken parents of a man who fell to his death over a motorway rail have issued a stark warning after losing their son in a freak accident.
Christopher Weber was 27 when he went out of control on a bridge and jumped off a ramp of packed snow that had been plowed the day before – his family said other drivers could be at risk.
“I don’t want other people to get hurt or killed,” Christopher’s grieving father, Craig, warned.
The slain Wisconsin man was commuting to his new information technology job, which he had been working hard for when the tragedy struck six years ago.
Part of Christopher’s commute was to drive across the massive Hoan Bridge, which stands about 120 feet above the Milwaukee River.
His pickup truck struck ice on the bridge, causing him to spin sideways out of control.
It had snowed the night before, and plows were leaving piles of the stuff on the side of the towering bridge.
The packed snow against the barriers created a kind of ramp and Christopher’s truck went off the road and rolled over.
He was killed after the car landed 44 feet lower on the roof.
Although this is a rare and horrifying incident, new research shows it’s more common than you might think.
“My thought was, ‘It’s a freak accident,'” Craig told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Maybe it’s not that crazy.”
Bridges and elevated highways are prone to frost and often have “black ice” in winter that can cause a car to spin out of control.
While these roads have bumpers that should keep a vehicle from flying off, the snow piles render them useless.
The Sun-Times launched an independent investigation that found 53 similar snow ramp crashes have occurred in cold-weather states since 1994.
Five of these occurred within two weeks in Chicago and Milwaukee last year.
Among last year’s accidents, two people died in Chicago after falling off a snow ramp on the Stevenson Expressway.
Four friends, all in their 20s, raced off the Stevenson Expressway after days of heavy snow and plowing.
The car plunged 43 feet into a lawn, killing driver Bulmaro Gomez, 27, and his passenger Griselda Zavala, 22. The two in the back seat were injured.
A toxicology test found alcohol in the driver’s blood. However, the Illinois State Police released an accident report stating, “The Hyundai continued to drive forward over the wall due to snow accumulating on the right shoulder.”
The victims’ families have filed a lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Transportation, alleging that officials failed to warn drivers of the dangers of the snow ramp.
Commenting on the incident, IDOT spokeswoman Maria Castaneda said: “IDOT continues to look for ways to increase safety and improve efficiency during snow and ice events and throughout the year.”
The agency said they are clearing roads first to allow emergency vehicles to pass.
Then it can perform “pack snow operations” to remove the compressed piles with plows and snowblowers.
However, this can be dangerous depending on the environment of the plowed road.
While the issue is still in the works, Christopher’s family continues to urge authorities to take this seriously and protect drivers.
“I wish they would change that policy so that this doesn’t happen to any other family,” said Christopher’s mother, Deb Myrick.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/6959573/parents-urgent-warning-son-killed-winter-accident/ Heartbroken parents issue urgent warning after son, 27, was killed in a weather accident in a 44ft fall over the freeway barrier