Houck Covered Bridge damaged by apparent drunk driving accident

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Houck Covered Bridge was damaged during an early-morning accident on Wednesday. The accident occured when an alleged drunk driver left the right side of the road and hit the guardrail until it struck the corner of the bridge.

An alleged drunk driver crashed into one of the county's oldest covered bridges in a recent early-morning accident.

County highway officials estimate it will take between $1,500 and $2,000 to repair Houck Covered Bridge, which crosses Big Walnut Creek in northern Washington Township.

The damage to the 133-year-old bridge appears to be entirely cosmetic.

Shortly before 1 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23 Jeremy L. Hutson, 41, Greencastle, was westbound on County Road 550 South, just east the bridge, in a 2001 Chevrolet Blazer.

Deputy T.J. Smith reported that Hutson's vehicle left the right side of the road and hit the guardrail leading to the bridge.

The SUV continued along the guardrail until it struck the northeast corner of the bridge and came to rest.

Hutson was transported to Putnam County Hospital, where he was treated for minor bleeding and tested for alcohol.

When Hutson tested above the legal limit of .08, he was taken to the Putnam County Jail and booked in at 4:24 a.m. for operating while intoxicated.

Deputy Smith estimated total damages in the accident between $2,501 and $5,000.

Built by the Massillon Bridge Co., Houck Covered Bridge is a 210-foot, two-span bridge that carries County Road 550 South across Big Walnut Creek.

Along with the Dick Huffman Bridge in Washington Township and Dunbar Bridge in Greencastle Township, Houck is among the oldest remaining covered bridges in Putnam County. All three were erected across Big Walnut in 1880.

An alleged drunk driver smashed into the corner of the historic Houck Covered Bridge on Wednesday morning, causing an estimated $1,500-$2,000 worth of damage.

Houck Bridge was rehabilitated in 1994, and will be bypassed with a modern bridge in the coming years.

The new bridge will be constructed upstream of the covered bridge with two primary goals for the project.

The first is to increase the safety of the intersection of county roads 550 South and 500 West. As currently configured, 550 South takes a 90-degree turn onto 500 West immediately west of the bridge.

Not only will the new bridge connect the two roads at a safer angle, it will also take away the blind entrance to the turn (not a factor in this case) caused by the covered bridge.

The second goal is to preserve the historic structure as a walking bridge with room for visitors to get out of traffic and tour the bridge at their leisure.

Bids on the project will be accepted later in 2013, with the bridge likely to be completed in late 2014.

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  • Not defending a drunk driver, but this bridge has no reflective markings on the east side. Driving westbound at night, this bridge can sneak up on you if you don't already know it's there.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 8:21 AM
  • I am disgusted that people drive drunk, but at least he did not kill anyone or die himself, maybe this will be a wake up call for him, I hope that the bridge can be repaired soon.

    -- Posted by DIANNAGORRELL on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 9:55 AM
  • a big oooopsie

    -- Posted by Sputty on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 10:01 AM
  • Glad no one was hurt and that there was no structural damage to the Houck Bridge. Besides his DWI, he should be charged with damaging a historical landmark.

    -- Posted by kamare on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 10:20 AM
  • Make sure you send him the bill too.

    -- Posted by Emmes on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 11:27 AM
  • He was not drunk when he hit the bridge...And there was No DWI.

    -- Posted by Fordgrl on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 1:28 PM
  • Fordgrl, are you disputing that Jeremy's blood alcohol level tested above .08, as reported in the article? I have to admit I have no direct knowledge of this case, but I know the suspect and I'm not at all surprised this happened.

    -- Posted by Clovertucky on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 8:26 PM
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