Company Owner Disputes $11,400 Citation After Trucker’s “Poor” Choice
Northwood, ND – A trucker was issued a hefty overload citation on Monday after a “restricted weight” bridge he was attempting to navigate across gave way and collapsed into a North Dakota river.
The Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office (GFCSO) posted the incident to their Facebook page on Monday, quickly garnering comments, reactions and shares from the social media community.
The post — complete with photos — stated trucker Michael Dodds, driving for Klass Trucking out of Larimore, was traveling west on 3rd Avenue Northeast, near Northwood around 1:15 p.m.
According to GFCSO, Dodds was driving a 2005 Peterbilt and pulling a trailer loaded with dry beans.
He attempted to navigate across a 56′ “restricted weight” bridge above the Goose River.
It was then Dodds began experiencing that sinking feeling.
The bridge — which is over 110 years old — collapsed from underneath the trailer.
Built in 1906, the bridge is listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places. It was rated for 14 ton gross weight.
As the bridge collapsed, the trailer became hung up on the west abutment.
The tractor had already cleared the bridge and Dodds was thankfully uninjured.
The bridge, however, is a total loss. Authorities estimated it will cost $800,000 to $1 million to replace.
GFCSO stated Dodds’ truck weighed 86,750 lbs. He was issued an $11,400 overload citation.
Authorities also stated the incident remains under investigation, which is good news to the owner of Klass Trucking, Shane Olson.
Olson was quick to come to his driver’s defense on the GFCSO Facebook page.
“I am very disappointed with the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Office posting this information as it is inaccurate and misleading,” Olson commented. “Wondering if they are trying to inform the public or amuse themselves!”
In an exclusive interview with Transportation Nation Network (TNN), Olson expanded on his comments.
“[The truck’s] weight, as Sheriff claims, is not the cause of [bridge] failure,” Olson explained to TNN.
While he — and Dodds — are the first to admit the driver “chose poorly” when deciding to cross the bridge, Olson contends it didn’t go down the way GFCSO claimed… pun intended.
Olson said the trailer didn’t straighten up while getting on the bridge. When the trailer made contact with the structure, it pulled it off the pedestal where the bridge sat.
Olsen claims the bridge did not break as GFCSO stated, but rather it “fell off its support.”
“It was no guard rails leading up to bridge and [the] trailer being able to strike directly on structure,” he said.
Olson provided photos to TNN, which he believes illustrates his claim.
“As you look at pictures of ledge where bridge sat, you will notice there is nothing securing the bridge to the concrete base. It was only sitting with nothing holding it in place except it’s own weight,” Olson said.
Olson also called his driver’s actions following the incident “admirable.”
“[Dodds] spent a good portion of this day in tears and making apologies. Admirable compared to many I have employed that can never admit failure or learn from their mistakes,” he told TNN. “Mike Dodds has good character.”
According to Olson, Dodds “unfortunately” relied on Google maps to help him with routing on the day of the incident.
Olson said Dodds admits to seeing the weight posting at the entrance to the bridge.
However, the bridge was at the end of a double “s curve,” and the driver felt it was improbable to back up without going off the road.
“He chose poorly,” they both admit. “It was his fault, no denying that.”
Even still, Olson stands by his driver.
“He is a loyal, honest and reliable employee,” who he does not plan to let go.
“Firing someone for making a mistake that will undoubtedly never be repeated to hire someone who hasn’t done it yet, and will possibly make similar mistake themselves, is not good sense,” Olson explained of his decision.
Olson also plans to contest the overweight citation Dodds received.
“North Dakota has a very uncommon way of citing for weight,” he said.
Olson said Dodds was fined for the “whole weight” of both the truck and trailer (which, according to Olson, was 81,000 – 82,000 lbs.), but since the bridge itself was 56′, “only one or the other” could entirely be on the bridge at one time.
The truck remains impounded until the citation is paid.
While Dodds was the one cited and ordered to pay the fine, Olson plans to help him with the fees.
Olson told TNN he plans to post bond to retrieve the truck on Tuesday, at which time a court date will be set.