Family recalls horrific night after green bridge pileup


Posted on January 28, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 11 at 11:20 AM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @katiecmoore

NEW ORLEANS — A Mereaux family is still recovering after crashing, and getting crashed into, on the so-called green bridge between Orleans and St Bernard Parishes Friday night.

Handan Pinar had to take deep breaths and get help from her husband just adjusting the pillow behind her back Tuesday while sitting on her living room sofa.

One of her ribs was broken in the accident that resulted from cars sliding into each other on a half an inch of ice on the bridge Friday. Pinar, her husband and a friend were all traveling home to Mereaux when they hit the ice.

“There was no way to get around it because it's just two lanes and there are already about seven or eight cars in front of him all piled up,” their daughter, Mimi, translated for them.

The couple and their friend are natives of Turkey, but the couple calls St. Bernard Parish home.

They crossed the green bridge without warning about the ice on the top of it. They say there were no law enforcement vehicles and no sand or salt on the roadway.

Plus, the bridge has few lights. Pinar described it as “Black.”

“The brakes didn't do anything and he really thought he was gonna hit and they thought they were gonna die,” Mimi translated for her father, Huseiyn, who was driving at the time of the crash.

They hit the back of an empty 18-wheeler leaving Huseyin with a broken hand, a bleeding gash on his head and a hurt back.

Then, other cars slammed into his.

“She remembers a baby screaming, crying and they think at least two, three people in each car,” Mimi translated for her mother Handan.

It was cold. They had no heat in the car that could no longer start. Mimi snapped pictures at the hospital when they all finally made it. Handan was huddled under a blanket in a wheelchair after being treated for her broken rib.

They say it took emergency crews an hour to get to them on the bridge because the surface was so slick no one could drive or even walk on it until the sand and salt arrived from the state Department of Transportation and Development, or DOTD.

“They were like shivering. Couldn't even talk. He wishes at least they could've brought them some blankets or something. Because all of the cars were in the same situation. Everybody was in the car shivering, waiting for almost two or three hours,” Mimi translated.

Tuesday at the green bridge, the scene was much different before the worst of the sleet and ice began to fall. DOTD sand trucks were stationed at the bottom of it to get the de-icing material down before it became too slick.

After a horrible night last Friday, the Pinar family said they are still thankful that their injuries weren’t any worse because it was a significant pile-up. They said they weren’t sure exactly how many cars were involved that night but they were hoping it doesn't happen again with the second round of winter weather in as many weeks.