Police say driver in fatal bridge crash “was not speeding”; city officials knew railings weren’t secure

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ST. LOUIS – A bombshell finding by St. Louis police in July’s fatal bridge crash. Fox 2/KPLR 11 obtained exclusive details revealing the bridge had a potentially deadly problem

After July’s crash, city leaders suggested a reckless driver was to blame for hitting a bridge railing onto a driver below. Police investigators, on the other hand, appeared to discover the problem was with the bridge.

On July 23, a 21-year-old driver at Lindell and Union lost control and hit the bridge. A one-ton block fell onto Jan Torrisi-Mokwa, who was driving west on Forest Park Parkway below.

“It’s a safe bridge. Speed kills. We know that. We see accidents all the time. It’s not always about a bridge,” said St. Louis Director of Operations Todd Waelterman said at the time. “People need to slow down; they need to put their damn phones away.”

But speed was not a problem, according to a police report obtained by the Fox Files.

The report notes the driver who crashed made too sharp of a right turn and "was not speeding."

Investigators determined “a speed of 14-28 mph is highly probable.” The posted speed limit is 25.

The real problem? The report confirms the concrete block was not secured and “held in place only with mortar.”

An investigator added, “It would not take an extreme amount of force to dislodge the concrete block and push it forward.”

Our investigation found previous crashes revealing city leaders already knew. Like a 2012 accident that also involved a vehicle that was not speeding.

Judith Diltz was there.

She said the vehicle, “…was coasting. It wasn’t going fast because he was knocked out.”

The 2012 report reveals the driver was passed out behind the wheel and completely stopped in the middle of Union and Lindell.

“(I was) blowing my horn trying to get his attention and get him to wake up so evidently he shifted some kind of way as to making the car proceed forward,” Diltz said.

Diltz described the pickup slowly glide into the railing and knock it out onto Forest Park Parkway below.

“It didn’t look like at the rate that car was going that it would have knocked all that out. It was surprising,” she said.

Diltz told her daughter it was like déjà vu when she saw the July crash on the news.

“I told her it was just like the one that we had seen and it’s just sad that it happened and it killed this person,” she said.

St. Louis police investigators said they’re reviewing internal car computer records, as well as cellphone records, of the driver who crashed before releasing the official report.

The City of St. Louis declined to comment on this story, citing the ongoing investigation and an incomplete report.

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