LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — The man who was driving the tractor trailer that caused another vehicle to careen over the side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and into the water below July 19 has been charged by the Maryland Transportation Authority.
Gabor Lovasz, 29, of Canada, is charged with, among other things, failure to control speed to avoid a collision and negligent driving. He will pay a total of $670 in fines.
The MDTA accident report, released Thursday, says investigators believe Lovasz’s truck was traveling between 47 and 51 miles per hour right before it struck a Chrysler Sebring that was then pushed over the barrier wall.
The Sebring, which was traveling at a speed of just four miles per hour, then fell 27 feet into the bay.
The driver, 23-year-old Morgan Jade Lake of Sunderland, Md., was able to unbuckle her seatbelt and swim to safety, suffering only minor injuries.
The passengers of another car involved in the crash were uninjured.
“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,” writes MDTA Police Chief Colonel Michael T. Kundrat. “We’re analyzing potential strategies including flashing Congestion Ahead signs, requiring headlight use during two-way traffic operations and additional rumble strips.”
The National Transportation Safety Board released its initial report on the accident on Aug. 19.
That report says the collision occurred around 8:30 p.m., less than a mile past the toll plaza, after traffic had merged from eleven toll lanes into two travel lanes.
According to the report, the company that owns the tractor trailer is based in Prince Edward Island, Canada. Lovasz emigrated from Hungary to Canada as part of the Temporary Foreign Worker pilot project and had only been with the company since April. The trip that involved the accident was his first time driving in the United States without being paired with a more experienced driver. He had made a delivery in Orange, Va., and at the was en route to pick up his next load in Maryland.
The truck driver told the NTSB that he had been traveling in the right-hand lane. Just prior to the accident, he turned his attention to the driver-side mirror due to lights and sounds behind him. When he looked forward again, he saw that traffic was stopped. He attempted to avoid colliding with the Chrysler by moving to the left but could not.
The report says the only other known instance of a vehicle falling from the bridge into the water occurred in August 2008.
In that case, a tractor-trailer struck and dislodged a concrete barrier on the eastbound span. Both the truck and a 12-foot section of the barrier fell into the bay, and the truck driver was killed.
After that accident, the concrete barriers in the beam span portions of the eastbound span were upgraded.
The more recent accident also occurred on a beam span portion of the eastbound span. The report says the barrier walls in that area were 34 inches high and met all standards. After the accident, the barrier remained intact and in place on the bridge deck.