Combine accident

Photo by Mike Ruddy

A combine hauling a head trailer fell off a bridge when the south half of the bridge gave way on Monday in Audubon County east of Highway 71 near Hamlin.

AUDUBON COUNTY — Mitch Rydl, Audubon County Engineer, said he didn’t know the cause of an accident on Monday that resulted in part of a bridge collapsing and a combine falling into a creek, but said an investigation was underway.

“I don’t know exactly when it happened,” he said, adding one of his road supervisors had contacted him after a call from the Audubon County Sheriff’s office.

The accident happened on a bridge located on 240th Street between Nighthawk and Pheasant Avenues, about a half mile west of N36 in Audubon County.

“The combine went over the bridge and the south half of the bridge gave way, then it rolled over into the streambed,” Rydl said.

The Audubon County Secondary Roads department sent out a notification that the bridge would be closed until further notice.

The bridge had been inspected last month. “It is a fair condition bridge,” Rydl said, “There was no evidence of any failing piles or stringers.”

That particular bridge was on a 12 month cycle for inspections — Rydl said most bridges were on a 24 month inspection rotation, but this one was on his five year plan for bridge replacement. “It will probably be replaced with a concrete structure,” he said.

“It is a narrow bridge, 16 foot,” he said, adding that combines, from outside tire to outside tire could be about 21 feet. “I’m not sure if he got too close to the edge,” he said.

“We need to do more investigating,” he said.

Richter and Son Towing, Inc. out of Atlantic was coming up on Tuesday to get the combine out of the stream, and Rydl said that would make his investigation easier.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources had also responded to check out the scene and found that some fuel or hydraulic oil that had leaked into the creak. A containment system was used at the scene, and DNR officials had traveled down the stream to see if there was any additional containment needed.