Truck driver sentenced for Christmas Day collapse of Paoli bridge

Published: Apr. 12, 2017 at 7:47 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2017 at 10:09 PM EDT
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PAOLI, IN (WAVE) - The woman who drove a semi-truck across a small, historic bridge and causing it to collapse will serve jail time.

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Mary Lambright, 24, was sentenced Wednesday. She received the maximum sentence of 180 days in the county jail.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done before the bridge will be ready for traffic.

Lambright admits she made a mistake when she ignored signs on Christmas Day 2015 and attempted to drive her nearly 30-ton truck over a bridge built to support only six tons.

She pleaded guilty to reckless operation of a tractor trailer, a Class B misdemeanor. Lambright apologized to the judge, saying she was sorry to all of Orange County.

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A woman named Sherri Arnold is getting ready to open a bakery not far from the bridge.

"You don't see iron bridges like that much, and I think it's going to be awesome when it's back open," Arnold said, adding that she met Lambright a few years ago.

"She was a real sweet girl," Arnold said.

Inside the courtroom Wednesday, Judge R. Michael Cloud told Lambright that he realizes she has no criminal history, but said this is a doozy before handing down the maximum sentence, which likely will turn into 90 days behind bars.

"I think it's harsh," Arnold said.  "She is going to be paying for this for the rest of her life as it is. I feel bad."

County commissioners said the truck company's insurance will foot the $750,000 cost to fix the bridge. Crews are working now in hopes of having it back open by July.  Lambright did not wish to comment after the sentencing.

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"I know there are going to be those few that think the book ought to be thrown at her, and I understand that, but I think forgiveness is in order and in order to remove past that you have to forgive," Arnold said.

Lambright is ordered to be booked into the Orange County Jail on April 19. She must also pay some fines, including a $2,400 restitution for the bridge inspection, once it's complete.

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