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Bridge collapses under weight of farm combine

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An Audubon County bridge collapsed Monday night as a farmer attempted to drive a combine across it, according to an Iowa State Patrol crash report.

Brent Chambers, 30, of Hamlin, was westbound on 240th Street — a gravel road — about four miles east of Hamlin and encountered a one-lane wooden bridge over a creek about 8:35 p.m.

The combine, a 2019 John Deere S780 with an attachment on the front to harvest corn, weighed more than 30,000 pounds, the report said, but the bridge is rated to handle at least double that.

“We’re not sure what happened,” said Jami Schleimer, the county’s road superintendent. “It’s still under investigation.”

Chambers drove the combine onto the bridge, and he slowed the vehicle when he felt it start to fail. The south side of the bridge collapsed and the combine fell and overturned onto its side in the creek.

Chambers suffered unspecified minor injuries and was taken by ambulance to Audubon County Memorial Hospital.

The combine leaked up to 50 gallons of diesel fuel and an unknown amount of hydraulic fluid into the creek, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The bridge is closed indefinitely to traffic.

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