Sightseeing Man Dies When Milwaukee Drawbridge Rises

Richard Charles Dujardin was halfway across when the warning lights and bells activated
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2022 1:35 PM CDT
Tourist Falls to His Death as Milwaukee Drawbridge Rises
Police officers close off access to the Kilbourn Avenue Bridge after a 77-year-old man was found dead on the bridge Monday Aug. 15, 2022 in Milwaukee. A Rhode Island man vacationing in Milwaukee fell to his death after a drawbridge was raised while he was walking across it.   (Hannah Kirby/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

(Newser) – Six months after a 79-year-old woman fell to her death while on a drawbridge that was being raised in Florida, a similar tragedy in Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports a 77-year-old man visiting from Rhode Island was crossing a bridge in downtown Milwaukee on Monday as it began to rise. Richard Charles Dujardin's wife had already made it across the Kilbourn Avenue Bridge; he had lagged behind and was unable to catch up as the bridge began to open. He clutched a side railing and managed to hang on for a minute or two before falling 71 feet to the street below, per a report from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office.

He suffered head trauma and died at the scene. The report notes Dujardin had been looking at an iPad while walking, moved slowly, and wore a hearing aid. "The lights, bells, and arms came down at each end of the bridge, however Richard was hard of hearing and it is thought that he didn't notice them," the report stated. WISN reports the couple had been sightseeing and were headed to Old Saint Mary's Catholic Church. They were due to fly home to Providence later that day. The bridge was controlled remotely by an operator who monitored it via surveillance video; the AP reports he had two views of the span. Police do not believe there was criminal wrongdoing involved, but an investigation is underway.

The operator, who is now on leave, "was fully trained and in his fourth year as a bridge operator having conducted hundreds of bridge openings." Dujardin, who had worked as a longtime religion reporter for the Providence Journal, had six children. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Religion News Association in 2015, which lauded his work: "Dujardin traveled widely to cover Pope John Paul II, interviewed a future pope and a past US president, covered Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, and the Dalai Lama." (Read more drawbridge stories.)

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