SCRANTON — A truck driver scraped the bottom of a concrete bridge, damaged the span so much it’s been closed ever since, and now authorities have filed charges against the driver.
It was in November of 2012 when that driver hit the bottom of the bridge that takes traffic into downtown Scranton. And now, all these months later, Scranton police have a warrant out for the arrest of the driver.
The Moosic Street bridge has been closed since that day. PennDOT is in the process of replacing the part that was hit. That affects how tens of thousands of drivers get in and out of Scranton.
There have been a lot of questions about how this happened, and whether or not someone would be held accountable and on Thursday prosecutors filed felony charges against the truck driver accused of damaging the bridge.
At first, the only evidence police had were pieces of crumbled concrete and some cracks on a bridge. Now, they have a clearer idea of how this happened and charges against the person they believe is responsible.
Prosecutors filed an arrest warrant for Eric Gower from Archbald. He was driving the truck owned by Bob Bolus and, according to court papers, was hauling an excavator out of Scranton when the large load scraped the bottom of the Moosic Street bridge. But Gower told police he kept driving.
In November, Gower stood by his boss, Scranton businessman Bob Bolus, as their attorney declared it was all an accident and a misunderstanding. According to court papers, Gower initially told police he didn’t know he hit the bridge and that he was alone when it happened.
But in another interview, Gower told a different story: that after he hit the bridge, Bob Bolus showed up.
According to court papers, Gower told police:
“As (I) walked to the back of the truck Bob (Bolus) waved to me so I thought he meant for me to leave. Before (I) left, I observed Howard with a shovel removing concrete off the road while Bob tried to direct traffic.”
Officials with the Lackawanna County D.A.’s office said they’re still investigating, but filed an arrest warrant against Gower, charging him with risking a catastrophe – a felony – and making a false statement. They say because of the conflicting stories, it was a difficult case, but a priority for the office, since it took a heavily-traveled bridge out of commission.
“If this individual just stopped and called police, there probably wouldn’t have been charges filed. But we charged him with risking a catastrophe, and the risk to the community and the people driving under the bridge after he fled – after he allegedly fled, I should say – is very serious,” said A.D.A. Brian Gallagher.
We spoke with Bob Bolus, the owner of Bolus Trucking and Eric Gower’s boss. He says he hired a lawyer for Gower and plans to fight these charges. That defense attorney says Gower has plans to turn himself in but the attorney called the charges “off-base” and a “witch hunt” against Bob Bolus.