Remembering the Marketplace of the Midsouth

Perkins Road Bridge at Mall of Memphis Collapses


Photo:Eileen Knoblock

More Photos from Ron Sykes

Comments

I see you forgot to mention the Perkins Bridge Accident was caused by the developers instead of raising the land height. They just dug Nonconnah Creek deeper to make the land seem above the 100 year flood level. It was cheaper that way. The true sin was that they never resupported the bridge supports for the Perkins Bridge nor any of the other surrounding bridges, Getwell and Mendenhall. Three people went in the creek when the bridge collapsed but only 2 survived. My best friend, Bill Austin, drowned. They found his body a mile down stream. He was an All American safety for MSU, plus he won every high school award possible from the city,newspaper and radio. His future was bright. His mother took the developers to court many years later and lost. The Trezvants and Co. were acquitted. I cried for Mrs. Austin and the loss of Bill and what could have been. Yet justice might be a grassy field.

Frank 4/28/2011

I remember that horrific night well. I was a freshman in high school and had gone with my mom and stepdad to a popular bar called Gaffers, which was on Perkins Rd. less than a mile from the bridge collapse. It was St. Patrick's Day, and I believe that Bill Austin was in Gaffers that night with either his friends or teammates. We were regulars at Gaffers, and I recall that someone who had been in the bar that night, at the same time we were, had left after us and been involved in the accident. When Memphis has heavy rains, as we have lately, I always think back to that night in March 1980. We headed south on Perkins toward Winchester, but the idea that we could have gone the opposite direction has haunted me for over 30 years. I had no idea that the real cause of the accident was related to land development. I am sorry that Mrs. Austin lost her son, and Frank lost his best friend. However, I don't know that there's ever really justice in a situation like this. What penalty or fairness can suffice in the loss of someone as precious as Bill Austin?

Mark 4/30/2011


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