Through traffic to a disaster



May 20, 2007|By Glenn Fawcett | Glenn Fawcett,Sun Photographer

I was driving back to Baltimore from a couple of assignments south of Ocean City and making good time along U.S. 50 when I decided to turn on the radio and listen for the Baltimore area traffic reports. Since I'd left my Baltimore County home at 6 a.m. to be in the muddy wetlands of Deale Island by nine, the day was already growing long and I had visions of grilling dinner under the sunny, spring skies.

Just as I turned on the radio, the traffic report started as though it was aware that I had tuned in for it. And no sooner than the traffic report began, the otherwise steady pace of traffic around me at the base of the westbound lane of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge began to grind to a halt. And of course, the traffic report confirmed the cause of the slowdown, a "major crash closing all lanes" of the westbound Bay Bridge.

Sandwiched by cars and guardrails, I now sat motionless within the first mile or so of the bridge, knowing that somewhere ahead potentially major news was breaking and I wasn't there yet. Within 10 minutes, a seemingly endless convoy of police, fire trucks and ambulances screamed by on the far left lane that was designated for eastbound traffic.

Not long after the last emergency vehicle went by, I decided to lock my car, load my cameras into a backpack and jog to the front of the line and photograph what I could for the paper. It was a very long hike.

Once at the front, I was able to photograph the accident scene looking west and get some eyewitnesses to the accident to talk with a Sun reporter by cell phone about what they had seen.

It wasn't long before police decided to turn all the stuck traffic on the bridge around and send us all east to an alternate route back to U.S. 301 north along the Eastern Shore. The detour around the bridge, closed for the rest of the day, took traffic to near Wilmington, Del., and back south again to Interstate 95.

After making the long return hike to my car and driving off the bridge, sending my photos electronically to the paper and then driving east, then north, then south again, with the rest of the traffic I finally got home at 11:30 p.m. But no matter what time it was or how many miles more I drove, I was simply thankful to be home.

Sadly, three people perished on the bridge that day. No inconvenience of time or distance to the masses stuck on the bridge compares to the loss dealt to the families of those who died.

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