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Retired journalist, 77, dies after falling from Wisconsin drawbridge

A 77-year-old traveler died suddenly this week when the drawbridge he was crossing opened.

Richard Dujardin of Providence, Rhode Island said on Monday that the bridge began to rise on his Avenue and River Walk in Milwaukee when he was walking on the bridge near the Walk.

"Lights, bells, and arms fell on both ends of the bridge, but it is believed that Richard was deaf and unaware of them."Coroner's report} said. Dujardin was also walking around and he was looking at his iPad.

"As the [bridge] began to rise, [Dujardin] panicked and held onto the side rails," the report continues. He held on to the railing for his minute or two, lost his grip and fell about 70 feet.

Dujardin's cause of death was listed as head trauma.
Family Photo
The bridge operator has been suspended, as is local policy.

Police performed CPR at the scene but were unable to revive Dujardin, who died of severe head injuries.

Dujardin's wife Rose-Marie was also at the scene and crossed the bridge before her husband. She told authorities the couple had arrived in Milwaukee on Friday for a meeting, en route to noon Mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church, and were on their way home later that day.

The Milwaukee drawbridge is being remotely controlled using two live video cameras. The coroner's report said operators were instructed to check the cameras before opening the bridge.

"[Dujardin] is dressed in dark clothing and the railings of the bridge are dark green," the report notes.

On Wednesday, police confirmed the case was under investigation. The bridge operator, who has not been named, will go on vacation and undergo counseling as per standard practice. 

"We, the Department of Public Works, extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in the tragic events at Kilbourne's Avenue Bridge on Monday," the interim public said. Business Commissioner Jeler Kuruschki said. said in a statement.

"The employees at the time of the incident were well trained and in their fourth year as bridge operators, they have opened hundreds of bridges."

Dujardin's untimely death shocked the Providence community, who spent 47 years as a religious writer for the Providence Journal. A devout Catholic, he has written thousands of articles on a variety of topics, from the nomination of a new pope to the impact of Saddam's Hussein's invasion of Kuwait on his community. .

In a tribute to published Wednesday in the journal, Rabbi Les Gutterman of Providence described Dujardin's "ability to listen deeply" as `` He praised the way he always grabbed the subject generously.

Dujardin said he retired from the journal in 2013. In 2015 he received his William A. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award from his Religion Newswriters Association.

Richard and Rosemarie Dujardin
His family photo

In addition to his wife of 54 years, Dujardin is his 6 children and 9 grandchildren. 

Dujardin's son and journalist, Peter, paid tribute to his "great dad" in a Facebook post, noting that his father was a lifelong "news junkie" and had a child. He said he advised them to "stay close." God.

Members of the Milwaukee Public Works and Police Departments were not available for comment.