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Las Vegas police detective killed after beam falls on his car on highway

A truck carrying equipment struck a “warning beam” near an under-construction bridge, and the beam then fell on a car behind it.

A Las Vegas police detective was killed Friday after a steel beam fell onto his car on the highway, officials said.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Detective Justin Terry, 45, was killed about 7 a.m. on U.S. Highway 95, police said.

A truck ahead of Terry struck the warning beam that was in place to prevent drivers from hitting an under-construction bridge ahead, according to Justin Hopkins, public information officer for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Hopkins did not know how heavy the beam was. He said the beams are used as a “last line of defense” to slow or stop an oversized vehicle before it hits the bridge.

“Of course, these beams are not supposed to fall down, and unfortunately this one did,” Hopkins said.

Las Vegas Metropolitan PD: Det. Justin Terry on duty when accident occurred.
Las Vegas Metropolitan PD: Det. Justin Terry on duty when accident occurred.@LVMPD via Twitter

Terry, who was in his unmarked police vehicle and on duty when the beam fell, was with the police department for almost 21 years. He he is survived by a wife and two sons, the police department said.

“He was a well-respected guardian of this community. We honor his life and we will never forget his dedication and service to all of us,” the LVMPD said.

He created a program for officers to ride dirt bikes to serve the homeless in hard-to-reach areas, and he had most recently been part of the Homicide Sex Crimes Bureau, the department said.

The bridge is part of a large highway interchange project where U.S. 95 meets the 215 Beltway in northwest Las Vegas, called the Centennial Bowl interchange.

The warning beam is 15 feet up, Hopkins said. The under-construction bridge that the beam is there to protect still has “falsework,” which are temporary structures used so work can be done, he said.

The accident is under investigation.

In Nevada, vehicles or loads above 14 feet tall require a permit, and it is up to truck drivers to make sure their loads are a certain height, Hopkins said.

It’s too early to say whether there was any fault by the truck driver, he said.

The Centennial Bowl interchange project involves 20 bridges and is expected to be done in 2024, according to the state transportation department. The final phase broke ground last year.

It’s going to be one of the biggest interchanges in Nevada once finished, the department has said.