W/B 91 Freeway open after Riverside bridge collapse kills worker

All westbound lanes of the 91 Freeway in Riverside were opened Sunday afternoon after a bridge collapse killed a 59-year-old construction worker from Long Beach, transportation officials said.

The eastbound lanes remained closed as of 1:30 p.m., but Caltrans spokeswoman Michelle Profant said officials hoped to have them cleared and open within the hour.

Traffic on the freeway was reduced to a single westbound lane near 14th Street after a portion of an old railroad bridge buckled and broke about 3:15 a.m., said California Highway Patrol Officer Johnie Russell.

The worker, attached to the bridge by a harness, was cutting part of the structure in half when it "buckled and twisted under him," Profant said. The worker fell to the freeway below and was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.


The Riverside County coroner's office identified the worker as Okesene Faasalele of Long Beach.

No other injuries were reported by workers or motorists, officials said. Profant said the freeway was closed at the time for the demolition work.

An investigation into the cause of the collapse is ongoing.

The construction was part of a 6-mile-long project to add two carpool lanes to the freeway, Profant said. She said there was no indication that the incident would delay the project.

During the closure, westbound traffic was backed up for "maybe a couple of miles," Profant said. Motorists were diverted to the 60 and 215 freeways instead.