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Beams, worker plummet onto freeway; shut it down

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP) -- Interstate 405 in northwestern Orange County was closed for several hours early Wednesday after three steel beams weighing 50,000 pounds each tumbled from a construction site, injuring a construction worker who also fell onto the lanes below, transportation officials said.

The accident happened around 2:45 a.m. as crews were setting the 130-foot beams onto a new overpass in the Rossmoor area just east of Long Beach, said David Richardson with the California Department of Transportation. One beam on a crane bumped two already in place, and all three crashed down into the southbound lanes of I-405.

One worker fell from the overpass onto the pavement below, Richardson said. He was transported to a hospital with unknown injuries.

A second worker was left dangling but managed to climb back up and was not hurt.

"He was pretty shaken up," Richardson said.

All lanes at the busy Interstate 605 interchange were closed as workers used a crane to remove the beams, Caltrans said. The northbound side was reopened shortly before 7 a.m. Southbound lanes were expected to remain shut down until about 8 a.m.

Traffic was backed up for several miles in both directions and commuters on the key north-south artery were urged to find alternate routes.

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