Driver identified after truck goes overboard in Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel crash

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WATCH: Busloads take Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel tunnel construction tour Tour participants on Aug.

3, 2018 get a look at a tunnel construction project on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Carol Vaughn,

Updated, 8:30 a.m., Dec.

30 CAPE CHARLES, Va.– The driver of a box truck that went overboard on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel Tuesday morning has been identified.  Erik Mezick of Fruitland, Maryland, was driving the Cloverland Green Spring Dairy truck, according to a press release from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel District Tuesday evening. 

The Baltimore-based company sells food to hospitals, schools, convenience stores and supermarkets throughout Baltimore, Washington and Northern Virginia. Officials said the search for the 47-year-old was unsuccessful Tuesday. Just after 7 p.m., after searching about 178 square miles with multiple crews, the Coast Guard officially suspended the search.  Crofton Diving, out of Portsmouth, Virginia, will attempt to recover the truck on Wednesday, if marine conditions improve.

“The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the CBBT are with the family and loved ones of Mr. Mezick during this difficult time,” said Jeff Holland, executive director of CBBT, in a statement. Background: Safety questions: Big rigs in high winds on bridge-tunnel

More: Trial in widow’s lawsuit over fatal Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel plunge to start The two-axle, 6-tire truck left guardrail and curb damage on the bridge, officials said. CBBT maintenance crews were sent to make “emergency repairs,” according to the release. 

Traffic was reduced to a single lane both southbound and northbound and CBBT warned motorists to expect minor delays. A Coast Guard release said witnesses reported seeing a man exit the tractor trailer in the water and drift west. Sector Virginia watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast for mariners to keep a lookout for the man. CBBT Police are still investigating the circumstances of the 8:20 a.m. crash, and the release made no mention of other vehicles involved.

There were no restrictions on the CBBT this morning. There is no current impact to the waterways from debris or pollution, according to the Coast Guard. Updates are still forthcoming, according to officials, as cause of the crash is determined. 

[This report may be updated as more information becomes available.] There have been at least two other tractor-trailers that have gone over the rails since 2017 alone. That year, the fatal overboard of Joseph Chen, as the 47-year-old smashed through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel guardrail, sparked questions of bridge safety — and the effectiveness of crossing restrictions. 

His family has filed a £6 million lawsuit against the bridge operator, saying it was negligent when it allowed Chen to drive across the bridge-tunnel during high winds. In 2018, a commercial tractor-trailer driven by 33-year-old Jervone Rakeem Hall of Bridgeville, Delaware, collided with a van — also sending him and his passenger down to the water below. In addition to heavy rain, another contributing factor to the crash was drugs and alcohol in the driver’s system, according to toxicology reports. 

More: In fatal Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel crash, driver had drugs in system: Report More: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel construction is 2 years behind schedule The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel was opened to traffic April 15, 1964, and connects Virginia’s Eastern Shore and Hampton Roads.

From that point to 2018, 15 vehicles had gone through the rails and over the edge.

Those incidents resulted in 18 fatalities, with only two tractor-trailer drivers surviving the fall, according to bridge-tunnel records previously reported by Delmarva Now