Man plunges to his death when crossing an open drawbridge

The bridge had two cameras installed for security.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The Milwaukee drawbridge.
The Milwaukee drawbridge.


A 77-year-old man in Milwaukee, Wisconsin plunged to his death on Monday after a drawbridge he was crossing opened while he was still walking it, reported Unilad. Richard Dujardin was halfway across when the structure began to rise.

A tragic incident

He had been crossing the bridge with his wife Rose-Marie but was much slower than her.

According to a report from the Milwaukee County medical examiner, Dujardin wore a hearing aid which may have prevented him from hearing the bridge rise. He was also looking at an iPad at the time of the accident.

“The lights, bells, and arms came down at each end of the bridge, however, Richard was hard of hearin9 g, and it is thought that he didn’t notice them,” the report stated.

“When it started to rise he panicked and grabbed onto the side rail. The bridge continued to rise until it was straight up at a 90° angle.”

The report also revealed that he attempted to hang onto the railing for one or two minutes before losing his grip. He then sadly fell a distance of 71 feet. He was reported by police to have died of severe head injuries despite their best attempts to perform CPR.

The Department of Public Works which controls the bridge has placed cameras on it for extra safety. It is reported that the bridge operator had two camera views of the location which must first be checked before it is raised.

It remains unclear why no one noticed that Dujardin was still crossing.

Man plunges to his death when crossing an open drawbridge
The bridge fully open.

Dujardin was reported to be a well-liked character. One person who knew him told Unilad:

“I knew this gentle soul. He was a wonderful person. My mom used to work with him at the Providence Journal. This is such a devastating loss. He touched so many lives. May he rest in peace with our Lord,” they said.

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Unilad even quoted a witness to the accident who said: “I saw the aftermath of this accident in person and saw this poor guy lying there with the tarp over his body. Also saw how distraught his wife was. She has to live with this now. Very sad, indeed.”

According to a tribute written about Dujardin at The Providence Journal, the victim was a family man who had six children and worked as a religion reporter for 47 years at the media outlet. He was also the recipient of the William A Reed Lifetime Achievement Award from the Religion News Association.

The tragic incident illustrates why due diligence is always so important when tackling any civil engineering project. Although cameras had been installed for safety, they clearly did not serve their purpose.

Perhaps such dangerous structures should come with additional on-the-ground security such as crossing guards. The incident should serve as a warning to the Department of Public works on how to tackle future operations.

While Dujardin was wearing dark-colored clothes, it’s unclear why the camera workers didn’t spot him.

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