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I-555 bridge sustains heavy damage after truck crashes, catches fire

JONESBORO, Ark. -- The driver killed in a one-vehicle accident on I-555 in Jonesboro has been identified as Jackie Becker, 57.

Jonesboro police said Becker veered off the highway on Tuesday around 8:30 a.m. and crashed into the Harrisburg Road overpass (Highway 1B bridge).

The two-trailer truck caught on fire, killing Becker.

Workers on scene said the most combustible item on the truck trailers was pre-mixed weed-eater fuel.

“It is horrible," said driver Phil Mock. "That truck just looks like it hit that concrete pile and the bridge is coming down. It’s awful and the fire, it’s still smoking down there.”

The Jonesboro Police Department said the bridge sustained heavy damage during the crash.

“We pray for the families and all of those folks involved, that’s the most important thing right now; the rest is damage that we determine ways to repair," said Brad Smithee, an engineer with the Northeast Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department.

Engineers said the crash destroyed the truck and cracked the overpass deck. It also knocked down one of the bridge pillars and damaged two others.

“We do have a bit of work to do," said Smithee.

He said they’ll also be evaluating how much heat went into the overpass, which can cause significant problems.

Engineers can’t yet pinpoint how much repairs will cost but said this level of destruction isn’t common in Arkansas.

“It’s just something you don’t see every day," said driver Kortez Ellis.

The northbound lanes of I-555 will be closed for the next few days and the Harrisburg Road overpass will close indefinitely as workers stabilize it, assess the damage and make the necessary repairs.

Engineers said they don’t think the overpass itself could collapse, which is why they’re letting drivers travel on the I-555 southbound lanes.

“Harrisburg is a very highly traveled road, so it’ll be an inconvenience but we just ask for people’s patience because we want to make sure the road is safe for everybody before we let anybody on it," said Sgt. Cassie Brandon with the Jonesboro Police Department.

State officials said the detours now in place will affect over 20,000 drivers a day and people will also have to find new routes to get to the several business nearby.