(19 March 2004, Virginia) Paul, 48, was an electrician for the state Department of Transportation (DOT). He and Charles were part of a 15-person crew assigned to replace the lights in the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel. The crew would ride through the tunnel in a converted dump truck that had a ledge on the back used to hold tools during the procedure. DOT uses a different truck for each side of the tube, because the eastbound tube is three feet higher above the truck than the westbound tube. The taller truck had a tight squeeze returning through the westbound tube. Paul and Charles should have paid more attention to this fact.
The crew had finished working on the eastbound tube. On the return trip to the tunnel office for their lunch break, Paul and Charles chose to ride on the high platform facing backwards, rather than climbing into the cab. This was in violation of safety rules. Paul and Charles learned one major reason for the rules when the truck turned into the westbound tunnel.
Perhaps they had forgotten that this tunnel was three feet lower than the one they had recently left. Perhaps they felt their safety helmets protected them from just about anything. They soon learned otherwise. Paul was knocked off the truck when his head hit the entrance of the tunnel and died of massive head injuries. Charles was lower down, and survived with minor injuries, earning him an At-Risk Survivor.
RARE DOUBLE AWARD! Darwin Award / At-Risk Survivor
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Submitted by: Fred Everett
Reference: Daily Press, AP