Attorney for family of man who fell from rising drawbridge in Milwaukee calls on US attorney to open a federal investigation

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The attorney for the family of the man who died after falling from a rising drawbridge in Milwaukee, Jay Urban, is calling on the US Attorney to investigate his death.

The 77-year-old Rhode Island man fell to his death from the Kilbourn Ave. drawbridge on  Aug. 15.

"Some people call this a freak accident," said attorney Urban. "This is a tragedy waiting to happen on all of these bridges that rise." 

He said the family will open an independent investigation to be sure a "root cause analysis" is completed.

Attorney Urban also asked that other businesses and buildings in the area review their surveillance cameras to see if they caught the incident.

"It's been almost a month. I have not heard the leaders of this city apologize to this family to give any assurances that there's going to be a full and thorough investigation," said Urban. 

The Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has opened an investigation into the incident.

During a Public Works Committee meeting on Sept. 9, Public Works Commissioner Jerrel Kruschke indicated an internal investigation is ongoing to help determine what led to the tragedy. When questioned by Alderman Bob Bauman, Kruschke indicated there's not a lot of details that can be shared at this time. He confirmed the video cameras used to allow DPW workers to operate the bridge from a different location were working, bud did not record the incident.

"We have no way of verifying what the operator saw on that video or didn't see?" Bauman asked.

"That is correct," responded Kruschke.

Alderman Bauman went on to ask if that 'problem' had been corrected. Kruschke says it's being looked into, but would require a system update.

"I would have started that the next day," Bauman said. "That's a huge, it's a problem for everybody. It's a problem for the guilty. It's a problem for the innocent. Video would prove you didn't make a mistake versus proving you did. Now, it's all speculation and guess work and that's a problem."

Urban says he's hopeful an investigation will be opened in addition to the internal investigation being conducted by DPW.

"The most important part of an investigation is that it's independent. That's the whole reason that it's an investigation. Right now, there is not, to my knowledge, an independent investigation going on," Urban said. "You have the very authorities that operate these systems looking at these systems. They should at least be looking at the consultants, the vendors, who advised them to install it this way. If we don't look at the entire system failure, then we're never going to look at it."

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