UPDATED: One dead after section of old Bonner Bridge collapses during demolition

The final horizontal section left of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge collapsed during demolition on April 14, 2021. [photo courtesy Don Bowers/Island Free Press]

One person has died after one of the last remaining section of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet collapsed on Wednesday.

Emergency responders were called to Oregon Inlet just before 5 p.m. One of the two remaining sections of the navigation span in the middle of the inlet appeared to have collapsed.

The Dare County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday evening confirmed that one person was standing on the bridge. At least one other person was reported seriously injured. Other details about the incident were not yet available.

The Island Free Press reported officials were notifying the family members of the deceased, and have not released the person’s name.

[NCDOT traffic camera image]
NCDOT traffic camera image

Demolition began in 2019, shortly after the Marc Basnight Bridge opened to traffic. The southern end of the bridge that was built in 1963 is being converted into a public fishing pier.

Shoaling along the ocean sandbar slowed the Bonner demolition process which was expected to only take around 6 to 8 months after N.C. 12 was moved to the new span.

The conditions prevented barges from leaving the inlet with the concrete remains that were being placed along several artificial reefs offshore.

As the bridge was being dismantled, the concrete road deck and guardrails would be cut apart and stacked on the support beams. It was then be loaded on to barges, followed by the steel beams.

Only a few sections of the navigation span of the old bridge remained on April 8, 2021. [NCDOT image]

The northern steel sections had been lowered to a barge sometime in the 24 hours prior to the collapse. The southern section was in the process of being unloaded of the concrete when it fell.

Since the incident happened over a federal navigable waterway, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will be in charge of the investigation.

This is a developing story, stay with OBX Today for updates.

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Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.