Truck Driver Could Go To Trial For Hitting Bridge

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SCRANTON -- The driver police say hit and damaged a city bridge while he was hauling heavy equipment was in court Wednesday for a hearing on the charges.

Last November, a driver hauling a big piece of machinery hit a bridge that connects Moosic Street to downtown Scranton.

The damage was so bad that the bridge has been under repair ever since.

Police filed charges against the driver including risking a catastrophe.

But was it recklessness or just an accident? That was the argument we heard over and over again in court Wednesday.

The driver Eric Gower and his attorney don't deny that Gower hit the old bridge last November. But they say it was just an accident and was eventually reported to police.

But a magistrate agreed with prosecutors saying that Gower made several bad decisions that day that led to the crash.

Prosecutors say there were several things a truck driver could have done to prevent the damage to a heavily-traveled bridge in Scranton.  The bridge was in danger of collapsing after the truck carrying an excavator hit it.

And that's why the driver, Eric Gower, is facing felony charges. In a preliminary hearing, prosecutors said Gower didn't measure his truck that morning and he didn't get proper permits with PennDOT to drive a load that big.

Gower is charged with two felonies for risking a catastrophe.

In court, a PennDOT engineer testified that the result could have been catastrophic. The Moosic Street bridge that carries tens of thousands of drivers in and out of Scranton was in danger of collapsing.

"He pulled over, he should have stayed there. He compounded it. He made this far worse by not telling anybody and there was a delay and fortunately nobody was killed but it certainly could have caused the death of somebody," said Lackawanna County A.D.A. Robert Klein.

Gower's defense attorney says Gower has never denied damaging the bridge and thinks someone should be held responsible but that person isn't Eric Gower. He says Gower was thrown under the bus by his boss at Bolus Trucking.

"I mean, he's an employee of Bolus Trucking. I believe that Bolus came out and told you guys that he was taking responsibility for the bridge and that was before the charges were even filed against my client and now Eric Gower is ... facing charges and Bolus is nowhere to be found," said Bernie Brown, Gower's attorney.

As for the replacement of the bridge, an insurance company for Bolus Trucking will pay for it. Plans are to reopen the bridge sometime next month.