Texas Girl, 5, Dies After 34,000-pound Piece of Aluminum Falls From Flatbed Trailer

A 5-year-old girl died after a huge piece of aluminium fell from a flatbed trailer when the truck she was in crashed as it crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River.

The young girl, from Texarkana, Texas, was riding in the sleeper berth of a Peterbilt truck when the accident happened in East St Louis, Illinois, early on Monday morning, the Associated Press reported.

The truck was hauling a 34,000-pound piece of aluminium on a flatbed trailer when it struck the concrete center median on the Poplar Street Bridge at around 5.30 a.m., according to Illinois State Police.

The massive piece of aluminium came loose and hit the back of the truck, causing it to flip over on the bridge.

The accident occurred on the northbound lanes of Interstate 55 traveling from St. Louis, Missouri, to East St. Louis, Illinois, KSDK reported.

The girl, who has not been identified, was ejected from the vehicle. She later died of her injuries in hospital, according to the Associated Press.

The truck's driver, Janette Kirby, 44, and two boys, aged 15 and 17, were treated for minor injuries after the crash, police said. They are all also from Texarkana, Texas.

Illinois State Police is in investigating the crash. No further information was released. Newsweek has contacted the Illinois State Police for comment.

The accident caused lanes to be closed to traffic for several hours on Monday morning, according to KSDK.

Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that there has been a rise in deaths from crashes involving large trucks over a 10-year-period.

A study published earlier this year, using data from 2017, found that there were 4,761 people killed in crashes involving large trucks that year. It revealed that 78 percent of those fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred on weekdays, which was defined as occurring between 6 a.m. on Monday to 5:59 p.m. Friday.

Texas had the highest number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2017, at 621, followed by California, Florida and Georgia.

The research also found that there was a 9 percent rise in fatalities linked to large truck crashes from the previous year, up from 4,369 in 2016 to 4,761 in 2017. The report also noted there had been a 12 percent rise over the 10-year period to 2017, with 4,245 fatalities recorded in 2008.

gateway arch
Stock photo: St. Louis Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. A 5-year-old girl died in a truck crash on the Poplar Street Bridge, located close to the iconic Gateway Arch. Getty