Source AP ©

Mississippi River bridge collapse death toll rises to 12

Death toll of the bridge collapse into the Mississippi River has increased to 12 deaths as rescuers found the body of a man who went missing after the incident.

The man was identified the remains as Scott Sathers, 30.

Sathers worked in enrollment services at Capella University and was on his way home from work Aug. 1, using his usual route, when the Interstate 35W bridge crumpled amid evening rush hour traffic.

Divers continued to search for the last person on the list of missing, Greg Jolstad, 45. He was part of the construction team doing surface repairs on the bridge when it went down.

A vehicle also was pulled from the rubble Sunday. Bad weather on Saturday had hampered recovery efforts.

The cause of the collapse is still under investigation.

Documents obtained by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis for a story published Sunday reveal details of how officials decided to conduct periodic inspections of the bridge rather than repair it in the months before it crumbled.

According to the internal state Department of Transportation documents, officials were ready Dec. 6 to go ahead with a plan to install steel plates at several areas on the bridge as a patchwork fix amid reports that it was structurally deficient, as recommended by an outside consulting firm. The project was shelved after the state determined the process could actually weaken the bridge.

Instead, officials decided in January to go with periodic safety inspections that would look for any cracks in the beams that would warrant emergency repair. Senior engineer Gary Peterson said contractor URS Inc. assured them that any cracks could be detected before they posed a serious safety risk.

Inspections of 52 steel beams began in May but were suspended when concrete repairs began earlier this summer.

The inspection strategy was also deemed to be more cost effective, but Peterson and state bridge engineer Dan Dorgan denied that money played a role.

Engineers were to have met Aug. 20 to discuss whether the inspections were effective or if they had to go back to the plating idea.

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