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Public hearing in Sunshine Bridge case set for Monday

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DONALDSONVILLE- Nearly seven months after an accident turned a commute for thousands of drivers into a nightmare, and a week-long public hearing is about to begin.

"This level of investigation is reserved for a more severe level of accident," said Commander Matthew Meskun with the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard has either compelled or asked more than two dozen witnesses to testify about what happened on that day in October that the Sunshine Bridge was closed down.

"This is based on the actual accident and the severe impact that it had on the local community," said Meskun.

It all started last year when a barge crashed into one of the bridge's supports, causing major damage. The traffic that ensued was horrific, and it just kept getting worse in the coming days.

"Folks, it's going to take months rather than weeks," said DOTD Sec. Shawn Wilson days after the incident.

Even today, the bridge is not fully repaired and won't be until the end of summer.

Although Meskun could not comment on the status of the person who was driving the boat, he said criminal charges may come out of the hearings.

"So we can do something as little as a letter of warning, or if evidence reveals greater violations of law or whatnot, then certain things like civil penalties or criminal enforcement is an option."

The hearings are open to the public and begin tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. at Lamar-Dixon.


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