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Bay Bridge crash investigation assisted by NTSB

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ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY (WJLA) - The National Transportation Safety Board has announced it will help investigate last week's crash on the Bay Bridge that caused a woman's car to topple off the bridge and fall into the Chesapeake Bay. 

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“We welcome the NTSB’s involvement in our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of motorists crossing the Bay Bridge... From major physical upgrades to public information efforts designed to target distracted driving and speeding, our customers should know that we are committed to their safety and that we will work closely with NTSB staff during their investigation..." said Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Secretary Bruce Gartner. 

But even before the amazing survival story of Morgan Lake's crash and plunge, trucker Dale Jump says there is no doubt the side barrier walls on the bridge need to be taller. 

“The walls are too small. Real scary, buddy. Don’t know if you’re going to get back home every day or not,” he says. 

Now after an appeal from Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) as well as AAA, investigators are looking to see if Jump is right. 

Two highway safety engineers met with Maryland Transportation Authority police and engineers Thursday for several hours near the bridge to discuss its safety.

Gartner assures the bridge is safe.

“Our engineers were out on that bridge inspecting [the] bridge right after the incident,” he says. “We wouldn’t have opened the bridge if we didn’t believe it’s safe.” 

ABC7 News has learned the jersey wall at the spot Lake’s car was pushed over by a tractor trailer is 36 inches taller than the standards in place when that stretch of bridge was refurbished in 1986, but is likely inches lower than current guidelines for bridges built today. There is no requirement to upgrade, though that is exactly what AAA wants. 

“The concern of the motoring public is these jersey walls are too doggone low,” says John Townsend of AAA.

While the engineers will take months to make any recommendations, a low jersey wall is certainly a concern among drivers.

“It’s a very scary feeling,” says Marsha Whiteman. “Anxiety, white knuckle across the bridge all the time.”

Lake, 22, says she had considered the Bay Bridge scary long before Friday's crash, when she was struck by a tractor trailer and thrown 40 feet down into the bay. 

"It was always a little frightening, just going over that bridge," she says.

"I feel like they should investigate a little bit better, maybe make it a little safer," says Ronnie Fisher of Hurlock, Md. 

"I've never been afraid of the bridge, but recently with all the accidents and everything, of course it makes you think twice," says Carmen Principe of Stevensville, Md.

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