Woman struck by metal panel that fell from Portland Aerial Tram

Photo courtesy Portland Tram.

A woman was struck in the head by a thin metal panel that fell from the Portland Aerial Tram on Tuesday as it was moving above a pedestrian bridge in Southwest Portland.

The woman suffered some minor injuries and was treated at the scene.

KATU spoke with another woman who says the victim is her roommate.

"It was disorienting at first when it hit her," said Chanterelle Lenzi. "She said she thought the person behind her threw something at her, then she turns around and sees the whole thing go over her head."

Lenzi also shared a Snapchat photo sent to her by her roommate after being hit.

"She sent me a picture of the actual metal piece that hit her," Lenzi said. "It was huge and she's like, 'This hit me in the head.'"

Lenzi says her roommate is doing okay, minus a bump on her head.

Lenzi says they live right under the tram on the west side of Interstate 5. She and her roommates say they look at the tram very differently now.

"Of course we're looking up at the tram and we're looking down at the chip in the stairs that it left and we were just thinking we're so glad that all it did was clip her and not hurt her any worse than that," she said.

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the woman was on the Darlene Hooley Pedestrian Bridge at around noon when a panel fell from the passing tram, striking her in the head.

PBOT says the 7-foot by 5-foot panel was not a structural part of the tram, adding that it serves as a veneer for appearances.

The bureau said it is are still investigating what caused it to fall, but say it could have been wind-related.

Tram service was stopped for about 15 minutes so crews could check all the other panels on the two trams. They will return at about 9:30 p.m. to do further inspection once the tram closes.

The Portland Aerial Tram opened in January 2007. It takes passengers on a 3,300-foot journey between the two terminals located at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and the waterfront station.

OHSU officials sent the following message to staff:

A decorative panel dislodged from one of the Portland Aerial Tram cars Tuesday and struck one individual on the pedestrian bridge below. The individual was treated on scene by Portland Fire and Rescue for a minor injury and released.
Following a brief service delay and thorough inspection of both cars, the Tram has resumed service and is currently operating at normal capacity. The Tram will operate without the decorative panel until it can be repaired.
Service crews are working to determine the cause of the incident.
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