Officials: Strategic planning went into Sakonnet River Bridge rescue

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TIVERTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Eyewitness News spoke with the fire chiefs from both Tiverton and Portsmouth on Tuesday – one day after their crews responded to a report of two men trapped in the bucket of a boom truck that had overturned on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

According to Chief Robert Lloyd of Tiverton and Chief Michael Cranston of Portsmouth, the operation was too big for any one person to handle, so agencies at the local, state and federal levels had to work together.

“I’ve been doing this for a while, but I don’t think we’ve had any training of a boom truck tipping over,” Lloyd said.

For two hours, the workers were suspended 80 to 100 feet above the water. Officials said their worst fear was that the truck would tip over the edge and fall into the water.

“There were so many moving parts to this incident in itself. There was the rescue of the workers, it was also the safety of all of our workers,” said Lloyd.

The responding agencies had to come up with a gameplan quickly. They decided to use cables from a wrecker to keep the truck from falling. They then used another boom truck to rescue the workers.

Officials also made the call to suspend all boat, vehicle and foot traffic so crews had plenty of space to work.

“We had folks from the Turnpike and Bridge Authority, engineers, people from the crane company, as well as our first responders,” said Cranston. “We had the Coast Guard, we had a lot of people to run things by, find out what was going to be our best game plan going forward.”

If that didn’t work, crews were planning to rappel down the bridge and lower the trapped workers into a boat – but that would have taken longer.

Both men were successfully removed from the bucket and were transported to the hospital for minor injuries.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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