17 years ago, on this day the state capitol was under attack. A suicidal truck driver rammed an 18-wheeler full of milk into the south side of the capitol. It caused millions of dollars in damage.It happened just before 9:30 pm on January 16, 2001.
At the time Assembly Members Kevin McCarty was a policy director. He left the building just before the truck collided into the south side steps.”The driver went in right where the senate was debating that night,” said McCarty.Hundreds of people fled the building. The impact ripped the trucks fuel tanks apart and triggered the massive fire.Investigators identified the driver as 37-year-old Mike Bowers. An emotionally unstable man who had been in and out of mental care.The state would later sue the company that hired him.“The driver was killed but, it was kind of a miracle that no one was hurt,” said McCarty.In 2001 there were no barricades in front of the capitol. Bowers was able to get up to speed by driving straight down 11th street.The impact killed Bowers. Fortunately, his truck was only carrying a load of evaporated milk but the fiery crash renewed calls for tighter security measures.”There were some changes. Just outside the capital there are security ballads up to prevent cars from coming onto the capitol,” said McCarty.Concrete barriers were just one of the improvements. Security check points were installed. The number of public entrances was reduced from 6 open doors to just 2 guarded entrances.The crash caused around $16 million in damages. New security measures aim to prevent future attacks.