Man, 77, falls 70ft to his death when drawbridge he is walking on suddenly opens

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By Carina Murphy

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A retired journalist has fallen to his death while on vacation in Milwaukee.

Richard Dujardin, 77, from Rhode Island, was walking on the Kilbourn Avenue Bridge with his wife on Monday (August 15) when the bridge began to rise up.

According to a report from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office obtained by People, Richard was walking with his wife Rosemarie when the ground beneath them began to move.

Although Rosemarie managed to make it across the bridge in time, Richard was still only halfway across when the drawbridge began rising up.

The report described how the panicking man "grabbed onto the side rail" as the bridge opened. He hung off the rail for 1-2 minutes, but "ultimately lost his grip" - and fell over 70 feet to the ground.

Richard suffered a head wound from the fall and was knocked unconscious. Milwaukee police attempted to resuscitate him, but the 77-year-old was later pronounced dead at the scene.

He had previously worked for 47 years as a religion reporter for The Providence Journal, where he received the Religion News Association's lifetime achievement award in 2015.

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Credit: Joe Ferrer / Alamy

According to the medical examiner's report, the retiree wore a hearing aid and was a slow walker. When alarms went off to signal the drawbridge was about to be raised, he didn't notice as he was looking down at his iPad.

After announcing an investigation into Richard's death, the Milwaukee Police Department said that they had no suspicion of a criminal act, per the Associated Press.

The Kilbourn Avenue Bridge operator who was working during Monday's incident has reportedly been placed on leave following the tragic accident.

Interim Public Works Commissioner Jerrel Kruschke said that the skilled operator has four years of experience manning the drawbridge in downtown Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, Richard's mourning family members paid tribute to him in an interview with NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV. The retiree was married to Rosemarie for 54 years and leaves behind six children.

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The Kilbourn Avenue Bascule Bridge in 1929. Credit: GRANGER - Historical Picture Archive / Alamy

Daughter Julianne Grew told the outlet that her father would be remembered for his sense of humor. "He got a kick out of the little things in life. He loved to laugh," she said.

Her sister Joelle Dujardin added: "He accomplished a lot, but he never praised himself."

Featured Image Credit: Cavan Images / Alamy

Man, 77, falls 70ft to his death when drawbridge he is walking on suddenly opens

vt-author-image

By Carina Murphy

Article saved!Article saved!

A retired journalist has fallen to his death while on vacation in Milwaukee.

Richard Dujardin, 77, from Rhode Island, was walking on the Kilbourn Avenue Bridge with his wife on Monday (August 15) when the bridge began to rise up.

According to a report from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office obtained by People, Richard was walking with his wife Rosemarie when the ground beneath them began to move.

Although Rosemarie managed to make it across the bridge in time, Richard was still only halfway across when the drawbridge began rising up.

The report described how the panicking man "grabbed onto the side rail" as the bridge opened. He hung off the rail for 1-2 minutes, but "ultimately lost his grip" - and fell over 70 feet to the ground.

Richard suffered a head wound from the fall and was knocked unconscious. Milwaukee police attempted to resuscitate him, but the 77-year-old was later pronounced dead at the scene.

He had previously worked for 47 years as a religion reporter for The Providence Journal, where he received the Religion News Association's lifetime achievement award in 2015.

wp-image-1263165849 size-full
Credit: Joe Ferrer / Alamy

According to the medical examiner's report, the retiree wore a hearing aid and was a slow walker. When alarms went off to signal the drawbridge was about to be raised, he didn't notice as he was looking down at his iPad.

After announcing an investigation into Richard's death, the Milwaukee Police Department said that they had no suspicion of a criminal act, per the Associated Press.

The Kilbourn Avenue Bridge operator who was working during Monday's incident has reportedly been placed on leave following the tragic accident.

Interim Public Works Commissioner Jerrel Kruschke said that the skilled operator has four years of experience manning the drawbridge in downtown Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, Richard's mourning family members paid tribute to him in an interview with NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV. The retiree was married to Rosemarie for 54 years and leaves behind six children.

wp-image-1263165848 size-full
The Kilbourn Avenue Bascule Bridge in 1929. Credit: GRANGER - Historical Picture Archive / Alamy

Daughter Julianne Grew told the outlet that her father would be remembered for his sense of humor. "He got a kick out of the little things in life. He loved to laugh," she said.

Her sister Joelle Dujardin added: "He accomplished a lot, but he never praised himself."

Featured Image Credit: Cavan Images / Alamy