Authorities blame driver carelessness for the freak accident that killed a prominent local businesswoman outside of Forest Park this week. Janet Torrisi-Mokwa, 58, died after a 1-ton chunk of concrete fell onto her vehicle from the Union and Lindell overpass.
Investigators say Torrisi-Mokwa was driving along Forest Park Parkway when a driver lost control on the bridge over the parkway and slammed into the concrete barrier. A piece of concrete dislodged and fell onto Torrisi-Mokwa's Tesla below.
The 22-year-old driver of the car that struck the barrier was treated for minor injuries.
Despite visible cracks on the bridge before the accident, Todd Waeltermann, the Director of Operations in St. Louis City, said the bridge is inspected annually and doesn’t pose a risk to drivers.
“The bridge is safe, nothing is going to fall down unless some crazy act happens. It is not going to fall down. My family is going to use the bridge. I have no fear of it,” said Waeltermann. “I’ve been around 30 years, I’ve seen this stuff, it is a safe bridge.”
"We’re not going to repeat this again, OK? It's not going to happen again like this. It can't happen, OK?" he said.
However, inspection reports show the structural evaluation rating for the bridge is 3 on a scale from 0 to 9. A 3 rating is defined as "basically intolerable requiring high priority for corrective action." The clearance under the bridge received a 2 grade, also requiring corrective action.
Torrisi-Mokwa was a well-known businesswoman and the wife of former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Joe Mokwa. She was an authority figure in the business world and ran her own leadership advisory firm, Congruence Inc. Torrisi-Mokwa was also a leader in the charity world. She spent two decades with the Humane Society of Missouri.
"People truly gravitated towards Jan because she had one of those magnetic, charismatic personalities,” Kathy Warnick, the president of the Humane Society of Missouri, said.
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