Police officer dies after car plummets off Asheville bridge

Published: Oct. 29, 2013 at 7:47 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 8, 2013 at 8:47 PM EST
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Officer Robert Bingaman (Source: WYFF)
Officer Robert Bingaman (Source: WYFF)

ASHEVILLE, NC (WIS/WYFF) - A police officer died when his cruiser went off a bridge in Asheville early Tuesday afternoon.

The police car plummeted off the Jeff Bowen Bridge on Highway 240 and landed along Riverside Drive at about 1 p.m.

The cruiser was flipped up on end, with its hood crushed into the ground and the rear of the car against a bridge piling.

Asheville Police Chief William Anderson said Tuesday afternoon that Officer Robert Bingaman died in the crash.

"Despite the efforts of emergency personnel and our own officers who responded to the scene, officer Bingaman succumbed to his injuries," said a visibly shaken Anderson. "It goes without saying that this is a great loss for our department, the City of Asheville and our community."

Bingaman, 37, had been employed by the city of Asheville since August 2007. Previously, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1996-2000.

Anderson said Bingaman worked with the traffic safety unit and investigated traffic crashes and other traffic-related issues.

The events that led up to the crash have not yet been released. "We don't have a lot of information at this time," Anderson said. "We need to make sure we get the correct information out."

Anderson said he doesn't believe any other vehicles were involved in the incident.

"Great guy, did his job," said Anderson. "I'm not aware of any deficiencies in his performance."

The North Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating.

The bridge, formerly known as Smokey Park Highway Bridge, was renamed in 2012. The bridge passes over the French Broad River, though the portion beneath the bridge where the car landed is dry ground.

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