LYNWOOD, Ill. - It happened without warning: A huge piece of concrete fell from the underside of a bridge, hitting several cars.
Now, a woman who came within feet of being killed is demanding the state to do something to shore up the crumbling bridge in south suburban Lynwood.
"It was one of those moments where you see it about to happen and you know there's nothing you can do about it,” said Katelyn Forrest.
Forrest of St. John, Indiana, was driving with her mother on Northbound 394 last month approaching the Glenwood-Dyer Road overpass when it happened.
The huge piece of concrete smashed into the front of Forrest’s car, punching a hole in the hood. It then broke into pieces, which bounced off her car and hit three other vehicles. One chunk smashed through the windshield of another car.
Amazingly, no one in any of the four cars involved was injured.
"I've been telling people it probably was just a matter of like a second,” said Forrest. “If I had been a second sooner there's no doubt it would have hit the windshield."
We got the phone call from our son telling us what happened, of course, we immediately were panicking,” said Mike Forrest, Katelyn’s father-in-law.
Mike began digging into the history of the bridge and was stunned by what he found when he visited the underpass.
"We were shocked to find there was literally -- there had to be well over 100 pieces of concrete, ranging anything from a baseball size up to pieces in 18 inches,” said Mike.
Mike went online and found a 2017 inspection report by IDOT, calling the Glenwood-Dyer Bridge "poor...structurally deficient."
The underside of the bridge deck is described as, "basically intolerable requiring high priority of corrective action."
Indeed, you can clearly see where large sections of concrete have detached from the steel beams. The embankments on either side of the road littered with fallen concrete.
"The only response that I got from IDOT was they sent some crew out there to survey it and they knocked off a few other pieces of loose concrete and he was told that it was OK,” said Mike.
In a statement, an IDOT spokesperson said, "The Illinois Department of Transportation's top priority always is the safety of the traveling public. In this particular instance, the Glenwood-Dyer Bridge was due to have any loose concrete removed within days of the incident you described. That did occur and loose concrete was removed. We will continue to monitor and make any repairs as needed."
Mike and Katelyn say they're frustrated. They wonder why IDOT doesn't put up scaffolding or netting to catch any falling pieces. IDOT says the netting would sag, causing danger to passing trucks.
"It's obvious to me right now they're not going to do anything until somebody gets hurt or killed,” said Mike.
Katelyn’s car was totaled, so she's had to take out a loan and buy a new one.
However, she won't be driving it under the bridge.
"I haven't driven under that bridge since,” she said. “And for about a week after that happened it's like every bridge I drove under I had some form of anxiety, tension. If that bridge is that bad how many other bridges are bad?"