Lawmakers want Skagit Bridge named for trooper

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

Trooper Sean O'Connell

State lawmakers are asking that the Skagit River bridge be renamed for Sean O’Connell, the State Patrol trooper who was killed Friday working on a bridge detour.

The Skagit River bridge collapsed the night of May 23, dumping vehicles and debris into the river. Three people were sent to area hospitals and released shortly after with non-life-threatening injuries.

The bridge collapsed after a girder was struck by an oversized load hit the 160-foot span, constructed in 1955. A National Transportation Safety Board investigator traveled to the headquarters of Mullen Trucking in Aldersyde, Alberta, to gather information about the truck that was carrying the oversize load.

If the company is negligent the state could make a claim to recover damages.

An NTSB spokesman, Peter Knudson, said Monday that the on-site investigation continues this week as investigators document components as they are removed from the river.

The State Department of Transportation plans to replace the temporary span and restore the bridge in the fall. There are no plans for an all-new structure.

O’Connell died after his motorcycle collided with a box truck Friday evening near the Skagit County town of Conway. More than 150 police vehicles participated in a Sunday motorcade honoring a Washington State Patrol trooper killed in a motorcycle crash last week.

The resolution to rename the span as the Sean M. O’Connell Memorial Bridge is being introduced to the House and Senate by Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island), Reps. Jeff Morris (D-Mount Vernon) and Kristine Lytton (D-Anacortes).

“Renaming the bridge in Officer O’Connell’s honor is just a small token of our gratitude for his 16 years of dedication to our state,” the legislators said in a joint statement, “but it doesn’t even begin to display the level of appreciation all Washingtonians have for his service or the heartache and compassion we feel for his family in the wake of his loss.”