PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The family of a long-time Providence Journal reporter is calling for an independent investigation into his death.
Richard Dujardin, 77, was crossing the Kilbourn Avenue Bridge in downtown Milwaukee last month with his wife, according to a Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office report, when it opened.
His wife, Rosemarie, made it across the bridge but he was about halfway across when it began to open. He grabbed onto a side rail as the bridge sections rose to a 90-degree angle, but he lost his grip and fell about 70 feet to the pavement below, according to the report.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, investigators said.
“This is a freak accident and one that each and every single one of us is remorseful about,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson previously said.
His family is now questioning the design of the bridge, saying if it had been different, Dujardin would still be alive.
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The bridge is controlled by the city’s Department of Public Works and its two halves are raised and lowered for boat traffic by someone working remotely who has two camera views of the span. Investigators said the lights and bells were operational as the two sections were raised and crossing arms came down at each end of the bridge.
Police also said in a statement that there is no suspicion of a criminal act, but they are continuing to investigate.
The family’s attorney, Jay Urban, also questions comments the mayor said shortly after Dujardin’s death.
“Some people called this a freak accident, this is a tragedy waiting to happen on any one of these bridges that rises,” Urban said.
Dujardin’s family said the closest thing they can get to closure is a lawsuit so this never happens again, and Urban says they plan to file one.
The DA’s office in Milwaukee is also reviewing the police investigation.