The Latest: Man indicted on arson charge in bridge collapse
The Latest on the collapse of a major Atlanta interstate bridge (all times local):
The man accused of starting a fire that caused the collapse of an Atlanta interstate bridge has been indicted on an arson charge by a grand jury.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard Jr.’s office said in a statement that Friday’s indictment charges 39-year-old Basil Eleby with first-degree arson and first degree property damage. Eleby had been arrested on the same charges and jailed on a $200,000 bond.
Howard’s office says Eleby faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison if he’s convicted of the charges.
Authorities say Eleby had talked about smoking crack prior to the fire that broke out last Friday under the Interstate 85 bridge in an area where the state of Georgia stores noncombustible construction materials.
Eleby’s attorney, Liz Markowitz, has said her client is being used as a scapegoat.
Atlanta’s mayor estimates that travel times will increase substantially on Monday as a key interstate remains closed due to a bridge collapse caused by a large fire.
Many Atlanta area schools were on spring break this week, temporarily easing fears of fierce gridlock due to a stretch of Interstate 85 closing last Friday. But Mayor Kasim Reed says models predict a 30 percent increase in travel times as schools resume normal schedules.
Reed says people should try to use transit systems, rather than commuting by car. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority plans to increase service on Monday.
The mayor also urges companies to consider letting employees work from home or change schedules.
Reed says those who must drive should have a full tank of gas before leaving.