I-40 bridge disaster

The I-40 bridge disaster was a bridge collapse that occurred southeast of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma at 7:45 a.m. on May 26, 2002.

Joe Dedmon, captain of the towboat Robert Y. Love, experienced a blackout and lost control of the tow. 

This, in turn, caused the barges he was controlling to collide with a bridge pier. The result was a 580-foot (176.78 m) section of the Interstate 40 bridge plunging into Robert S. Kerr Reservoir on the Arkansas River. 

Fourteen people died and eleven others were injured when several automobiles and tractor-trailers fell from the bridge.

Rescue efforts were complicated when William James Clark (picture), impersonating a U.S. Army captain, was able to take command of the disaster scene for two days. 

Clark's efforts included directing FBI agents and appropriating vehicles and equipment for the rescue effort, before fleeing the scene.