The townspeople of Long Grove, Illinois in suburban Chicago spent years debating whether to save or demolish the old one-lane covered bridge that spanned Buffalo Creek.
Then two weeks ago, friends of the bridge - including local business and historical society leaders - celebrated when the bridge, more than 100 years old, was added to the National Register of Historic Places, an honor they believed would protect the structure from destruction.
As of 3:54 p.m. Wednesday, the party's over.
A 15,000-pound box truck that authorities say was too tall, too heavy and was traveling too fast crashed into the bridge, reports the Chicago Daily Herald and other Chicago news outlets.
The truck, driven by a Chicago man, took part of the roof off the bridge, "said to be the last remaining pin-connected, steel-truss bridge in Illinois," according to CBS Chicago.
Witnesses said the truck never stopped as it drove into the bridge, the Daily Herald reported.
"Yes we did," Messner said. "'What are you doing?' Unfortunately, the driver had a little bit of a smile on his face. And that's when we explained 'you just hit a historic building.'"
A Lake County Sheriff's deputy was parked near the bridge doing paperwork when he heard the crash, the department's Sgt. Christopher Covelli told the Daily Herald.
Covelli said the driver ignored the "no truck or buses" signs on the bridge, and it weighed more than twice the posted 6,000-pound weight limit.
"The truck was clearly too tall to enter the bridge," Covelli told the Daily Herald.
The bridge, built by the Joliet Bridge and Iron Co., earned its historic-place designation on June 15.
It came after village officials spent years debating whether to build a new, wider, two-lane bridge, or maintain the old bridge, according to CBS Chicago. Local fans of the bridge launched a campaign to preserve it.
Angie Underwood, president of the Long Grove Historical Society, said a few days ago that the national designation didn't completely protect the bridge from demolition but made that a more difficult process in the future, the Associated Press reported.
"It's now on the national registry and worthy of recognition," Underwood said, according to the AP. Demolishing it "would need a lot of public support, feedback and acceptance by the public."
Messner talked of more visitors coming to town to see the bridge because of its new bonafide.
"The unique thing is that people from all over the country will want to see this bridge," Messner said, the AP reported. "Folks like to look at bridges and we're now on the map, federally."
Now the bridge is closed off to vehicles and pedestrians as village officials figure out the cost of the damage, reports The Lake and McHenry County Scanner, which writes about local news.
The truck driver, identified as Eriberto Orozco, 30, was cited for several infractions, including driving an overweight vehicle, disobeying both a traffic control device and stop sign, and failure to slow down, the Scanner reports.
Orozco was not injured, authorities said.
"Hopefully, the damage was limited to the covering, which has been the case in previous run-ins with trucks that disregard all the signage," says a notice on the historical society's website.
Plans for a July 12 ceremony to celebrate the bridge's new prestige are on hold. A picture of the cracked, smashed-up structure is now at the top of the historical society's website.
The website prefaces the bad news of the crash with one word: Unbelievable.