Crash experts from the National Transportation Safety Board were at a Glen Burnie salvage yard Thursday morning to look at the three vehicles involved in the Bay Bridge accident that catapulted a young woman and her car into the water.
At the same time, state officials — including Gov. Martin O'Malley — went on the offensive to reassure the public that the 61-year-old bridge is safe and that they would implement any recommendations made by the NTSB.
The federal inspectors spent more than two hours in the fenced-in lot at North County Towing and Recovery, looking at wreckage from the crash. They were joined by accident reconstruction officers from the Maryland Transportation Authority, operator of the bridge, and the Maryland State Police. They also drove across the bridge and inspected the crash scene.
The safety team was expected to view other evidence and review bridge records.
Leif Dormsjo, the state deputy transportation secretary, said the inquiry is being pursued on three levels: determining the cause of the crash, evaluating the quality of the response by multiple state and local agencies, and analyzing bridge engineering with an eye toward improvements.
"If there's anything we can learn that will reduce the chance of a similar incident, we're going to do it," he said.
No charges have been filed against the truck driver in the accident, Gabor Lavasz, who was uninjured.
Dormsjo said he expected the state would "pursue charges at some point."
Both AAA Mid-Atlantic and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski have raised questions about the ability of the 31/2-foot-tall concrete barriers that line the edge of the bridge to stop a car from plunging over the side. Witnesses said the tractor-trailer slammed into a 2007 Chrysler Sebring last Friday night, causing it to hit a Mazda SUV. The truck hit the car a second time, driving it over the barrier and into the bay 27 feet below. Morgan Jade Lake, 22, of Calvert County had to swim for her life to a rock piling.
When asked whether he thought the guardrails were high enough, O'Malley responded, "They were high enough for 50 years."
He continued, "It's not possible to make our roadways 100 percent safe. Cars are dangerous instruments. And while we have reduced the traffic deaths ... there are still too many people who die on the roadways."
The state made improvements to the guardrails in 2009 after a crash killed a truck driver who plunged to his death.
Records compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show Bulk Carriers Ltd., a Prince Edward Island-based company, had a fairly clean record. Over the last two years, the company was inspected 124 times and had four drivers and four trucks taken out of service for violations — far below the industry average.
During the same period, the company was issued 24 citations in Maryland, New York and Maine for vehicle violations that included defective brakes and power steering, malfunctioning signals and horns, and bad tires. Drivers were cited 16 times, mostly for being behind the wheel longer than federal regulations permit. None of the drivers were cited for alcohol or drug violations.
Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed to this article.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun