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Family: Deadly Lake Lewisville Bridge Crash Was Preventable

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LEWISVILLE (CBSDFW.COM) – A North Texas mother had a hard time articulating her loss. “I don’t have the word because it’s too much pain, too much hurt.” Kayla Gawalek’s family now wants to know why the icy bridge that contributed to the young woman’s death was not closed. Gawalek’s pickup plunged into Lake Lewisville on Saturday, after she lost control.

When trying to determine who had oversight of the bridge and why it was open CBS 11 News was met with a lot of finger pointing.

Denton County is the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the Lake Lewisville Bridge. Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) said Denton County would have to make a recommendation to close the bridge — for their agency to get involved.

Kayla Gawalek

The accident that took Kayla’s life has her mother left with nothing but memories. “Kayla she always loving, giving, very friendly,” remembered Isabel Gawalek. As the mother thinks of her daughter she says she wants to focus on the good times. “She always had smile on her face and like I said, she made friends everywhere she went. She loved to go fishing.”

It was early Saturday morning and the winter storm had just ripped through North Texas. While freezing rain and falling sleet left areas covered Kayla set out to drive to work in Denton. She was attempting to cross the Lake Lewisville Bridge when police say her pickup truck spun out of control, hit a guardrail and plunged into the water below.

“It hurts so much the way she went, the accident the way it happened,” Kayla’s mother said.

Conditions on the bridge were extremely icy and hazardous.  Conditions in the water were treacherous as well. Divers worked for hours to bring Kayla and her truck back to land.

Isabel Gawalek feels authorities should have stepped in and closed the bridge. “It [the accident] could have been avoided. It could have been prevented, if only they could have put something [sic] ya know for people not to go through the bridge, or any other bridge, because it’s so dangerous.”

Each of the county and highway agencies said their bottom line goal is to keep roads and bridges open and that’s what they did. They used ice graders and sanded the bridge every 2 to 3 hours.

Kayla Gawalek’s funeral is set for Thursday.

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