SCRANTON -- Nearly two and a half years after a busy Scranton bridge was damaged, the hit-and-run driver who damaged it took responsibility.
The Moosic Street bridge needed to be replaced after the ordeal in 2012, and on Tuesday, the driver pleaded guilty for leaving the scene.
This was one of the more bizarre criminal cases that prosecutors in Lackawanna County have handled: a hit-and-run case where the victim is a bridge. But it affected thousands of Scranton drivers for more than a year.
In November of 2012, every beam on the Moosic Street bridge in Scranton was cracked, but there was no culprit. The bridge was closed, and then replaced leading to a yearlong headache for the 15,000 drivers who use that route each day.
While PennDOT handled the problem, prosecutors in Lackawanna County took the case to court, eventually charging Eric Gower of Archbald, a driver for Scranton businessman Bob Bolus.
"If he would have stayed at the scene, we never would have gone through this court proceeding or anything. He's now marked with being dishonest and that's something that will follow him the rest of his life," said Lackawanna County A.D.A. Bob Klein.
Eric Gower no longer works for Bolus Trucking, but the decision he made while on the job in November of 2012 still follows him. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges for leaving the scene of the crash, including failure to prevent a catastrophe and false swearing to police.
Gower's attorney was ready to take his case to trial, but he says they couldn't pass up this plea deal.
"I think he's the fall guy, as you saw in some of the factual allegations. I mean, he's working for Bolus Trucking. He hits the bridge. I mean, it's an accident. And then some of the steps he took after were probably not the most intelligent steps, but they were steps at the direction of his boss," said Gower's attorney Bernie Brown.
Prosecutors haven't said why no one else was charged, but they insist the biggest mistake was made by Eric Gower, who should have made the police his first call.
"The cover up is always worse. It's taken down people from the top of our country, politicians, all the way down to just regular people," Klein said.
The end of Eric Gower's criminal case will allow PennDOT to begin seeking insurance money to pay for the new Moosic Street bridge. The bridge cost more than $1 million to replace.