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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

METAIRIE, La. - Both lanes of the Causeway Bridge were reopened Thursday afternoon shortly before rush hour.

The bridge was closed for much of the middle of the day as crews worked to remove a dump truck that crashed into Lake Pontchartrain off the Causeway Wednesday afternoon.

Witnesses recall seeing a ball of fire as the truck crashed into the guard railing, taking down about 100 feet of the railing before plunging into the lake.

A flat-bed truck moved dump truck off the bridge around 3:30. The body of the driver was not inside and dive teams continued a search.

'The truck had significant damage,' said Causeway Director Carlton Dufrechou. 'We do not know what caused the initial impact, but, there was an explosion associated with it.'

Divers from the St. Tammany and Jefferson Parish sheriff's offices and crews on the bridge worked throughout the day Thursday to lift the 35,000-pound truck out of the water.

It crashed between the two spans of the bridge.

The recovery effort caused periodic closures on the Causeway for most of the day.

'It took two heavy lift vehicles to actually get the thing,' said Dufrechou. 'It went in, inverted and actually crushed the cab of the truck. Dive teams did great. They were able to shackle it.'

As crews worked to remove the truck, friends and family members of the missing driver kept a vigil at the Bonnabel boat launch.

Dufrechou said the body was not inside the truck.

'It appears when the truck went in, it rolled,'he said. 'We're assuming right now the driver was still in the truck as it went down.'

We are told that divers and the Coast Guard will continue the search Thursday evening and into Friday, if necessary.

Neither the name of the driver, nor the trucking company he worked for, have been disclosed.

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