ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Distracted driving on the part of a commercial truck driver was the primary cause of a crash on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge last month that led to a woman and her car being pushed into the water, according to a collision reconstruction report released Thursday by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.
The three-vehicle crash occurred at 8:24 p.m. July 19 on the eastbound span of the bridge. The crash involved an International truck/tractor pulling a semi-trailer, a Chrysler Sebring and a Mazda CX-5 SUV.
According to the MDTA, the tractor-trailer operator, Gabor Lovasz, 29, of Canada, told investigators that his attention was directed to his driver's side mirror due to flashing headlights behind him.
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The MDTA said when Lovasz looked forward again he noticed that the vehicles in front of him were stopping. He attempted to steer the tractor trailer to the left to avoid contact, but struck the left rear of the Chrysler, pushing it up onto the top of the barrier wall. A second impact from the tractor trailer then pushed the Chrysler over the wall, and the car fell approximately 27 feet into the shallow waters of the bay. The Mazda also was struck by the tractor trailer during the crash.
The investigation also found no mechanical defects with the vehicle at the time of the inspections following the crash.
The MDTA Police are charging Lovasz with failure to control speed to avoid a collision ($130 fine), unsafe lane changing ($130 fine), negligent driving ($280 fine) and speed greater than reasonable and prudent on highway ($130 fine).
The operator of the Chrysler, Morgan Jade Lake, 23, of Sunderland was able to unbuckle her seat belt,
free herself from the car and swim to safety at a nearby bridge pier abutment. She was flown via Medevac to Shock Trauma, where she was treated and released.
This investigation also referenced a similar crash on April 13 on the eastbound span, although a behicle struck there came to rest on the barrier wall.
"Both the April and July crashes were a direct result of distracted driving. Every one of us has immense responsibility behind the wheel," said MDTA Police Chief Col. Michael Kundrat. "With two similar incidents over the last few months, we are taking a closer look at this area of the bridge to evaluate what can be done to enhance safety. We're analyzing potential strategies including flashing Congestion Ahead signs, requiring headlight use during two-way traffic operations and additional rumble strips."
The MDTA Police's collision reconstruction report is available online at mdta.maryland.gov.