Michigan officials fast-track bridge fix after man says it 'collapsed under my feet'

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — State officials have fast-tracked the inspection of a Detroit pedestrian bridge after a man claims the concrete gave way under his feet last week while he was crossing over the Lodge Freeway on his way to a Detroit Tigers game.

Ely Hydes, who lives about a block from the Spruce Street pedestrian bridge in Corktown, said he plunged nearly 15 feet May 9 after the collapse, landing near oncoming freeway traffic.

A hole in the Spruce Street pedestrian bridge in Detroit on Sunday, May 15, 2022, shows the ground below.

Despite the large hole in the concrete, the bridge remained open to pedestrians until Sunday, when The Detroit News emailed the Michigan Department of Transportation about the incident.

Hydes said Sunday he was talking with a friend on his way to the ball game, "and in mid-sentence the bridge just collapsed under my feet.

The pedestrian bridge that Ely Hydes fell through in Detroit, Michigan on Monday, May 16, 2022.

"I wasn't sure where I was, and as I was falling I remember thinking, 'I hope I'm not over the freeway.' I landed about 6 feet from the traffic," the 36-year-old attorney said.

Hydes said a Detroit police squad car showed up at the scene, and that he told two officers what happened.

"I don't know if they took a report or not," Hydes said.

Ely Hydes shows his injuries from falling through a pedestrian bridge on Monday, May 16, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan.

MDOT spokeswoman Diane Cross said state officials were not informed about the incident until The Detroit News inquired about it Sunday.

"This email (from The News) was the first notice that MDOT received of a hole in the pedestrian bridge," Cross said in an email.

Ely Hydes shows his injuries from falling through a pedestrian bridge on Monday, May 16, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan.

Detroit police officials said Sunday they were looking into the incident.

The Spruce Street bridge was open to pedestrians as of about 8 p.m. Sunday, although an MDOT crew was on the scene.

"Our head of bridges in Metro Region and maintenance for the area have checked out the ... bridge and are having it closed asap," Cross said in the 9:34 p.m. email. "Bridge crews will also be checking the rest of the bridge from underneath (Sunday night) to ensure no additional issues and ensure traffic can safely pass underneath (the) bridge." 

The concrete on the Spruce Street pedestrian bridge in Detroit collapsed under him as he was crossing over the Lodge Freeway in Corktown on May 9, said lawyer Ely Hydes.

Cross added: "The Spruce pedestrian bridge was built in 1953 and based on its age and condition, it is on a yearly detailed bridge inspection that is due this month. 

"That inspection would be used to determine if the substructure of the bridge can remain and replacing the deck surface would be required or if the entire (pedestrian) bridge needed to be rebuilt," Cross said. "MDOT will request that detailed bridge inspection be done asap."

The pedestrian bridge that Ely Hydes fell through in Detroit, Michigan, on Monday, May 16, 2022.

Hydes said he was considering filing a lawsuit against the state.

"If you look on that bridge you can see decades of erosion," he said. "I'm in a lot of pain, I've missed a week of work, and I have medical bills. I'm not trying to fleece anyone, but I think some compensation would be fair."

In 2019, Hydes made national news by turning down money after he caught a home run ball hit by former Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, which represented the slugger's 2,000th career RBI.

Hydes received numerous offers for the milestone ball, including an Angels fan who reportedly was willing to pay $25,000. Hydes declined all offers.

Instead, Hydes donated the ball to the Baseball Hall of Fame in the name of Cyrus Arlo Maloney, Hydes' son, who was 21 months old when he died suddenly on June 11, 2018.

"Crazy things happen to me when I'm going to Tigers games — good and bad," Hydes said Sunday.

Ely Hydes hands the Albert Pujols baseball to Susan MacKay, director of collections for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Hydes, a Tigers season ticket-holder, said the bridge collapsed as he was headed to the game with a fellow attorney.

"I was editing a paper for him and was telling him not to feel bad because his writing is good compared to most lawyers," Hydes said. "In the middle of my sentence, I fell through the bridge and said 'oh, s----.'

Ely Hydes with his son, Cy.

"When something like that happens, time dilates and everything slows down," Hydes said. "After I hit the ground I got the wind knocked out of me pretty good. My friend was pretty scared."

Hydes said after he told police what happened, he continued to the Tigers game, although he said he doesn't remember much about the 2-0 loss last Monday to the Oakland Athletics.

"It was stupid going to the game; I was pretty much blacked out the entire time," he said. "I use e-tickets on my phone and I remember holding up my phone for (the usher) to scan it, and my hands were all bloody. The guy was like, 'Are you OK?' I don't remember much else."

The Spruce Street pedestrian bridge over the Lodge Freeway in Detroit was closed to traffic on Monday, May 16, 2022 after the Michigan Department of Transportation learned Sunday that Detroit resident Ely Hydes said he fell through the concrete on May 9.

Hydes said he checked in to Beaumont Hospital Dearborn on Tuesday.

"They rushed me to the back of the room, and seemed to be taking it more seriously than I did," he said. 

Hydes, who said he's a die-hard Tigers fan, said he attended Thursday's game, in which the A's beat the Tigers, 5-3.

"I've been on the couch since then," he said. "I'm a giant walking bruise right now."


(313) 222-2134

Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN