Damages Awarded In Bridge Accident

A King County Superior Court jury yesterday awarded $1.9 million to a Seattle woman injured in 1989 when a draw span on the Evergreen Point floating bridge malfunctioned and rose amid traffic.

Colleen Calkins, 40, was commuting from Seattle to her job at the American Cancer Society in Bellevue on Dec. 22, 1989, when the Highway 520 bridge's draw span rose five feet without warning because of an electrical malfunction.

Calkins lost her right foot and suffered other leg injuries when the car slammed into the side of a concrete section.

The jury also awarded Calkins' husband $75,000 for related problems he suffered because of his wife's injuries.

The state Department of Transportation admitted liability for the accident but disputed the extent of the damages owed to Calkins.

No decision has been made on whether it will appeal the verdict.

Transportation workers were performing a test of mechanisms used to raise the span, but an electrical malfunction caused the span to actually rise during rush-hour traffic.

When Calkins' car ran into the draw span, it had risen only 8 inches to 10 inches, but the impact pushed the car's foot pedals from the floor to the dashboard and crushed her legs.

Calkins said she also has suffered considerable psychological damage from the accident, including a deep fear of the bridge across Lake Washington.

Raili Korkka of Bellevue was killed and five others injured in the accident.