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Man, 77, Falls to His Death After Drawbridge Opens Beneath Him on Vacation with Wife

·3-min read

A retired journalist from Rhode Island died after falling from a drawbridge that opened underneath him in Milwaukee, where he and his wife were vacationing.

Richard Dujardin, 77, of Providence, was walking on the Kilbourn Avenue Bridge in downtown Milwaukee on Monday when the bridge began to rise up, according to a report from the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office that was obtained by PEOPLE.

His wife Rosemarie had made it across the bridge in time, but Richard was only halfway across, the report stated.

In a panic, the former reporter "grabbed onto the side rail" as the bridge opened, according to the report. He hung on for 1-2 minutes, but "ultimately lost his grip" and fell about 71 feet.

He suffered a head wound as a result of the fall, per the report. Milwaukee police attempted CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

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Richard and Rosemarie were on their way to a noon Mass at the time, per The Providence Journal, where Richard worked as a religion reporter for 47 years.

The retiree was looking at his iPad when the bridge began to open, according to the medical examiner's report. His wife told investigators that her husband was usually a slow walker and wore a hearing aid.

It is believed Richard "didn't notice" the "lights, bells, and arms" that came down when the bridge began to open, the report stated.

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Richard and Rosemarie were married for 54 years and share six children together, NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV reported.

Daughter Julianne Grew said her father "loved traveling" and had a good sense of humor. "He got a kick out of the little things in life. He loved to laugh," she told the outlet.

"He accomplished a lot, but he never praised himself," added daughter Joelle Dujardin.

Richard received the Religion News Association's lifetime achievement award in 2015, two years after he retired from journalism, according to The Providence Journal.

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The Milwaukee Police Department announced an investigation into Richard's death shortly after Monday's deadly incident. Police said in a statement that there was no suspicion of a criminal act, according to the Associated Press.

The bridge is controlled remotely by the city's Department of Public Works, the report stated. The bridge operator has two camera views "that are to be checked" before the bridge is raised.

Interim Public Works Commissioner Jerrel Kruschke said the bridge operator, who has four years of experience, has been placed on leave following Monday's incident, according to the AP.

The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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Richard's loved ones are asking anyone with footage from the incident to come forward to police, according to WTMJ-TV.

In the meantime, they are using their faith to get through. "It's his faith that's guided all of us," Richard's son Philip told the outlet.