NEW ORLEANS — TRAFFIC NOTE: Southbound Causeway traffic will be closed from 11 am to 2 pm Wednesday to remove the pickup truck from the water.
The southbound bridge of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway has reopened after a truck crashed into the water Tuesday morning.
Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou tells Eyewitness News that the crash happened around 6 a.m. near mile marker 18. Two people and a dog were inside the truck when it fell into Lake Pontchartrain but they were all rescued safely.
"The first thought was that I had to get the people out of the water,” said Officer Christian Coyle of the Causeway Police, who made the rescue. “I didn’t know if the current was going to take them or if they were injured. I knew if I went down there, if there was something wrong with them, I could at least keep them above the water.”
According to officials, the truck's driver was in the right lane with his cruise control on when the crash happened. The driver was looking at Google Maps on his phone, then reached for something in the console when the dog snapped at him.
Authorities say he then hit the curb and swerved from one side of the bridge to the other before driving through the railing and into the lake.
The driver then pushed the female passenger and the dog out of the truck's window before escaping the truck himself.
Dufrechou said a quick-thinking police officer jumped into the water to rescue the people inside the truck. Causeway MAP was then able to lift them to safety.
The bridge reopened to traffic shortly before 7:20 a.m.
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development says drivers should use Interstate 55 or Interstate 10 to get to the Southshore.
Stay with Eyewitness News on WWL-TV and WWLTV.com for more on this developing story.