Crash ignites talks of barrier on Newport Pell Bridge - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Crash ignites talks of barrier on Newport Pell Bridge

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There is little room for error driving over the Newport Pell Bridge. One small mishap becomes a serious if not deadly accident.

A head-on collision Tuesday closed part of the bridge for more than an hour, and injured two men.

Police said a pickup truck driven by 75-year-old Elijah Swift, of Exeter, veered into the path of 25-year-old William Oberg, of Warwick. Oberg was taken from the accident scene by a medical helicopter.

Both men were in serious condition at Rhode Island Hospital.

"Unfortunately on Christmas Eve, it did happen to another two families," said Jamestown attorney John Murphy who represents the families of a deadly crash two years ago that killed Kathy Meunier and her passenger Kenny Prior. A teen driver swerved into their lane and hit them head on.

The families of Meunier and Prior filed a lawsuit urging the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority to put up a protective median barrier.

"The chairman of the RITBA recently said it would be 2015, but I think the Christmas Eve incident may move that ahead even faster. It should be done right away," Murphy said.

Commuters and residents who use the bridge agree.

"People drive pretty fast over that bridge and you know, some way to prevent fatal head-on crashes would be great," said Gerry Bay.

"People say it's not wide enough. It might be tough fitting something like that, but it can be done. Of course people go too fast," said Dave Pritchard.

"With lightweight materials now, they could do a median without adding a lot of weight to the bridge or causing any sort of issues. So they should just do it before we lose more people unnecessarily," said Dan Shapiro.

David Prior, the brother of victim Kenny Prior, told NBC 10 that fatal accidents will continue to happen unless a barrier is put up.

"It's going to happen again," David Prior said.

He reminded the RITBA that speed and distracted drivers are big causes of crashes on the bridge.

A spokesperson for the RITBA could not be reached for comment.

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