‘We need to get people off the bridge immediately’: Hear the 911 call that brought traffic to a halt

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — FOX13 obtained the 911 call from the inspector who discovered the crack in the I-40 bridge and the action he demanded right away to save lives.

Clearly, you can hear the inspector realizing they had spotted danger on the bridge.

PHOTOS: I-40 Bridge closed after crack discovered

“I am doing a bridge inspection on the I-40 Mississippi River bridge. We just found a super critical find and we need traffic shut down on the I-40 Mississippi River bridge. I have already called and talked to the ARDOT people and they are working on it. We need to get people off the bridge as soon as possible. We need to get people off the bridge immediately.”

Inspectors were conducting the first day of inspection of the Hernando DeSoto Bridge when they spotted a crack in one of the beams that help keep that bridge standing.

The structural crack, as engineers call it, could have caused a disaster had it not been caught.

RELATED: 2019 Photo appears to show crack in I-40 Bridge then

The beam helps to hold the span of the bridge together as 41,000 cars and trucks ride over the Hernando DeSoto Bridge every day.

A schematic shows inspectors found the crack underneath one of the arches on the Tennessee side of the I-40 bridge.

The crack was in a beam that is connected to a support box underneath the bridge.

RELATED: No timeline on when I-40 bridge could reopen, officials say

It was so obvious that TDOT says a rookie could have spotted it. But these engineers didn’t act like a novice and called 911 to get the bridge closed.

“This fracture had the potential to be a catastrophic event and was prevented by our staff’s diligent efforts to manage our bridge inspection program,” said ARDOT Director Lorie Tudor. “They are heroes that saved lives.”

RELATED: Here are the alternate routes to get you around the I-40 bridge closure

The crack is so alarming to highway officials in both states that they have to recalculate if the I-40 bridge is even safe enough for the inspectors to go back on it to figure out what it will take to make repairs.

You can listen to the audio of the 911 calls below.