Covington, Kentucky- Inspecting bridges is nothing new for Darrell Dudgeon, an employee of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in Frankfort. But he never expected to see what he encountered September 27 while conducting an inspection on the Brent Spence Bridge.
While Dudgeon and others from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Ohio Department of Transportation were walking along the catwalk underneath the heavily traveled bridge, he saw an unusual sight.
"There was a kitten stuck on a 6" X 12" plate that connected a finger joint," Dudgeon recalls. "It was shivering and meowing for help. It looked like it had tried to climb up to the light of the open joint, but couldn’t."
For those that aren’t familiar with this bridge, it was built in 1963 and carries traffic from Kentucky over to Ohio with 135,000 vehicles using it to get to I-75 and I-71 as well as to getting to downtown Cincinnati every day.
Dudgeon asked his group if they would mind doing an animal rescue and everyone agreed to help. Kenton County Maintenance was on hand providing traffic control. Dudgeon retrieved his rappelling gear and lowered himself down to the lower cord. This was on the right hand side on the northbound lane of the bridge. Dudgeon worked his way to the other side of the floor beam where he could see the kitten.
The little gray kitten offered no resistance as Darrell picked it up and put it in a drawstring bag that was attached to his harness. Once Dudgeon and the kitten made it back to the deck, Steve Ellis (KYTC District 6) and Joe Mellman (ODOT District 8) took it to a nearby store to get it some water and food. Brian Huber, KYTC Kenton County state maintenance operator, gave it a new home. Huber decided to name the kitten "Spirit" because of it’s will to survive.
"Each day our employees are tasked with many things to provide a safe and reliable transportation system for our citizens," said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Maxwell Clay Bailey. "But what Darrell and our employees along with ODOT workers did that day was above and beyond their normal duties, and they are to be commended for it."