EAST CHICAGO — A man who drove off the Cline Avenue Bridge filed a civil lawsuit in Lake Superior Court alleging officials didn’t place proper signage informing motorists the highway was shuttered, according to court records.
Iftikhar Hussain was driving with his wife, Zohra Hussain, 51, on March 28, 2015, to Indiana from Illinois on Cline Avenue when he realized the road was coming to an end. According to court records, Hussain tried to brake, but he was unable to stop his 2014 Nissan Sentra.
The couple plunged nearly 40 feet to the ground before their car burst into flames. Zohra Hussain, 51, of Chicago, was killed in the crash. Iftikhar Hussain had a fractured spine, eye socket and had burns on his arms, legs and head.
Police at the time said Iftikhar Hussain was following GPS navigation that told him to continue on Cline Avenue Bridge, though it has been closed since 2009. Information about if he was following instructions from a GPS weren’t included in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit names the Indiana Department of Transportation, Figg Bridge Builders, United Bridge Partners, Figg Bridge Engineers, Linda Figg, the state of Indiana and Walsh Construction Co.
Attorney Timothy Schafer on behalf of Iftikhar Hussain alleges officials were careless and negligent in properly placing barricades or concrete barriers that would have prevented drivers from getting on the bridge.
The lawsuit also claims officials did not provide adequate warnings the bridge was closed or about road conditions, according to the lawsuit. It also alleges officials didn’t monitor, supervise and inspect the area to ensure that vehicles couldn’t travel onto the bridge.
In a photo submitted as part of the complaint, there is space between concrete barriers that appears large enough for a car to maneuver through.
Doug Moats, spokesman for INDOT, said the department was reviewing the complaint.
“INDOT does not generally comment on pending litigation, so we do not have anything to say at this time,” Moats said.
Last year, INDOT officials said at least one concrete barrier and one sign were moved sometime before the crash.
The Cline Avenue Bridge was first condemned in 2009 after engineers deemed it was gravely weakened. It was demolished in 2013. INDOT turned the right of way to Figg Group in a land swap.
Last month, officials announced the long-awaited construction on the bridge would start later this month, which is expected to cost $150 million to $250 million.
Officials from Figg Group did not return calls seeking comment about the lawsuit.