Work in Sports
Charlotte bridge collapse still under investigation
Posted: Thursday July 13, 2000 07:52 PM
CONCORD, N.C. (AP) -- All of those injured in May's walkway collapse at Lowe's Motor Speedway finally have left the hospital, but compensating the victims and determining the origin of the accident's cause is far from over.
The May 20 collapse at the close of The Winston all-star NASCAR race injured 107 race fans and left 97 people hospitalized. All have been released from the hospitals where they were taken after the collapse, but some remain in treatment centers or rehabilitation facilities.
Officials at the speedway and with Tindall Corp., the South Carolina company that built the walkway, have said the bridge failed because the steel support cables that ran through it had rusted badly. They blamed the rust on calcium chloride found in concrete grout, which was used to plug holes at the center of the walkway.
Investigators have not yet determined how the calcium chloride got in the grout, said Rodney Dean, a lawyer for Tindall.
We've got several leads that we're pursuing right now, Dean said. I would think a couple months from now we'll either have a better idea or we'll know that we're never going to know.
The bridge, which carried spectators over U.S. 29, was not inspected by the state because it was the speedway's property.
One lawsuit has been filed so far against the speedway and Tindall, according to lawyers involved on both sides.
The May 31 lawsuit accuses the speedway and Tindall with negligence - Tindall for building a defective product and the speedway for failing to inspect it properly and ensure its safety. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages of at least $10,000 each for five race-goers and two of their family members.
Chris Mauriello, the only attorney to file a collapse-related lawsuit so far, said none of his four injured clients who are of working age have returned to their jobs. Mauriello said no judge has been assigned and no hearings held in his lawsuit against Tindall and the speedway.
Dean said his Charlotte firm has contacted the lawsuit plaintiffs and other victims. Lew Glenn, a Charlotte lawyer for the speedway, said the speedway is leaving settlement discussions in the hands of Tindall and its insurer.
Speedway spokesman Jerry Gappens said it hopes to have the walkway rebuilt in time for the next Winston Cup race set for early October. The job should be quick since access ramps and walkway support columns already in place are certified as safe, Gappens said. It's unclear whether Tindall will build it.