Construction worker killed in Newton County bridge collapse

2 others remain critical after plummeting into Yellow River
A man was killed and two others were seriously injured when a portion of a bridge collapsed Tuesday in Newton County.

Credit: Georgia Department of Transportation

Credit: Georgia Department of Transportation

A man was killed and two others were seriously injured when a portion of a bridge collapsed Tuesday in Newton County.

A construction worker was killed Tuesday when a portion of a bridge collapsed, sending him and two co-workers into the Yellow River, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said.

Shortly before 5:30 p.m., a portion of the Access Road bridge, near exit 88 on I-20, collapsed as the general contractor, Georgia Bridge and Concrete, along with subcontractor B&D Concrete Cutting Inc., began sawing and demolishing the first of four bridges, the Georgia Department of Transportation said late Tuesday.

Demario Battle, a B&D employee, was identified as the man killed, the Newton sheriff’s office confirmed Wednesday.

Michael Garrett, a Georgia Bridge and Concrete employee, was operating a company-owned excavator on the bridge when a 70-foot section fell into the river below, according to an incident report obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Nearby on the same section of the bridge, Battle and co-worker Robert Mullins were loading concrete saws into their company’s truck immediately before the collapse.

Battle was found seriously injured at the scene and may have been struck by a concrete saw, the report said. He was taken to Piedmont Newton Hospital and declared dead just before 6:45 p.m. A friend created a GoFundMe campaign to help Battle’s family “overcome obstacles they may face in the weeks to come” and said he had been working for the company for only a short time but “showed incredible enthusiasm and potential.”

Garrett and Mullins were both seriously injured and were flown to separate hospitals, the incident report said. Both remained in critical condition Wednesday afternoon, according to Newton sheriff’s office spokeswoman Caitlin Jett.

Demario Battle, a worker for B&D Concrete Cutting Inc., died after a Newton County bridge collapsed.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

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Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Overnight, crews used a 500-ton crane to recover submerged equipment and debris from the river. By noon Wednesday, GDOT said that all equipment had been removed.

The sheriff’s office has completed its probe, Jett said, though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will continue investigating the incident.

🚨Newton Co. Bridge Collapse Update🚨 **12:20 p.m. Oct. 20** Equipment removal from the Yellow River is complete as of...

Posted by Georgia DOT - East on Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Construction in the area began Monday, according to the sheriff’s office, closing both eastbound and westbound lanes at the bridge on Access Road, also known as Frontage Road. The bridge is expected to be closed for about nine months, the sheriff’s office previously said.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the bridge was built in 1937 and was considered to be in “fair” condition.

It was not known how Tuesday’s collapse could affect the bridge’s construction timeline.