Officials: 77-Year-Old Man Falls to Death After Drawbridge Opens in Milwaukee – ‘Hung onto the Railing for 1-2 Minutes’

Richard Dujardin
Family of Richard Dujardin

A 77-year-old man tragically fell to his death in Milwaukee after the drawbridge he was walking over opened.

Richard Dujardin of Providence, Rhode Island, was walking with his wife, Rosemarie, on the Kilbourn avenue bridge on Monday at around 12:30 p.m. at the time of the accident, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiners report via CBS 58.

It is believed Dujardin did not notice the warning signs that the drawbridge was opening, such as the bells and whistles, because the 77-year-old was “hard on hearing.” The report also noted he was looking at his iPad at the time.

Dujardin tried to catch up to his wife, who was ahead of him, “but was not fast enough,” the medical examiner’s report stated.

As the bridge drew to a 90-degree angle, Dujardin “hung onto the railing for 1-2 minutes” before falling an estimated 71 feet to his death.

Per CBS 58:

The drawbridge in this area is controlled by the Dept. of Public Works employees from a location on Water Street via cameras. Employees have 2 camera views of the bridge, and have to check both cameras before allowing it to rise. A total of 7 bridges are operated from this location.

The bridge is dark green in color and Dujardin was wearing dark clothing at the time of his death. It is not yet clear whether the operators were unable to see Dujardin on the bridge or saw him and were unable to stop the bridge’s progress in raising vertically.

“We at the Department of Public Works send our deepest sympathy to the family and friends who lost their loved one from a tragic event at the Kilbourn Avenue Bridge on Monday,” interim Public Works Commissioner Jerrel Kruschke said in a statement via NBC News.

Kruschke added that the employee who was working on the bridge was “fully trained” and had worked four years in the position.

The accident is still being investigated by the Milwaukee Police Department, but there is no suspicion of a crime, NBC News noted.

Dujardin had previously worked at the Providence Journal for 47 years, covering religion and working as an executive editor before retiring in 2013. He was noted to be a “devout Catholic.”

Dujardin and his wife — who had been married for 54 years with six children — were visiting Milwaukee that weekend for a conference, the Journal noted in a tribute to him.

Before the accident occurred, the couple were on their way toward the Old Saint Mary’s Catholic Church downtown, WISN 12 News reported. The couple was scheduled to fly home later on Monday.

You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.