Bridge Collapses Amid Heavy Rains East of Indio, Prompting Full Closure of 10 Freeway

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A bridge collapsed amid heavy rains Sunday in Desert Center, southeast of Joshua Tree National Park (map), prompting the closure of the 10 Freeway in both directions, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A vehicle is seen at the site of a bridge collapse in Desert Center, Calif., or Sunday, July 18, 2015. (Credit: KMIR)

A vehicle is seen at the site of a bridge collapse in Desert Center, Calif., or Sunday, July 19, 2015. (Credit: KMIR)

A 30-foot-by-50-foot section of the eastbound side of the interstate “is washed away and the bridge is gone,” according to an incident report on a CHP website.

A pickup truck went over the side of the roadway in the collapse, which was first reported at 4:43 p.m. and left the driver trapped inside after a passenger got out, according to the Highway Patrol and Cal Fire’s Riverside division.

Other motorists used tow straps to secure the vehicle to a guardrail, preventing the truck from being swept away in the Tex Wash, said Jennifer Fuhrman, spokeswoman for the fire agency.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and initiated a cut-and-rescue operation. Amid rapidly rising water, as well as falling asphalt and debris, the trapped person was provided with a helmet and extracted from the vehicle, Fuhrman said.

The driver was then transported with moderate injuries to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palms Springs, according to the CHP.

A SigAlert was issued by the agency about 5:45 p.m.

A bridge collapsed into the Tex Wash in Desert Center, Calif., on Sunday, July 19, 2015. (Credit: KMIR)

A bridge collapsed into the Tex Wash in Desert Center, Calif., on Sunday, July 19, 2015. (Credit: KMIR)

A bridge on the westbound side of the freeway at the location, about 45 miles east of Indio, was “undermined” and impassible due to uncertainty over whether it was structurally sound, the Highway Patrol said. Caltrans engineers are expected to assess the overpass on Monday morning.

Eastbound traffic was being rerouted at Chiriaco Summit (map), while westbound motorists were being redirected at Corn Springs (map).

The freeway will remain closed for an “extended” period of time, Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty wrote in a tweet Sunday night.