Just before 6 pm on June 28th, 1981, two diagonal steel cable stays on the Brooklyn Bridge snapped due to corrosion. One crashed down into the wooden-slatted pedestrian walkway, while the other whipped back and struck Akira Aimi as he was crossing the bridge on foot.
32-year-old Aimi, a Japanese professional photographer living in New York, was critically injured, suffering a fractured skull and broken arm. He was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital where he died 8 days later.
The diagonal stays are not a critical load-bearing component of the bridge, but serve as bracing intended to minimize swaying due to the wind. However, the cable failure drew accusations of inadequate bridge maintenance which allowed the corrosion, caused by elements such as salty air and acid from pigeon droppings, to progress unchecked.