ST. LOUIS – St. Louis police have identified the woman killed in a freak accident on Monday outside of Forest Park.
Janet Torrisi-Mokwa, 58, of St. Louis died after concrete fell onto her vehicle from the Union and Lindell overpass.
Emergency crews responded to Union and Lindell around 12:20 p.m. after a vehicle crashed into the northwest corner of the bridge and the concrete from the crash fell onto Torrisi-Mokwa’s vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle that crashed into the overpass was transported to a hospital with minor injuries.
Forest Park between Union and Kingshighway was closed for several hours to vehicle and foot traffic while accident reconstruction was on scene.
Torrisi-Mokwa is a well-known businesswoman and the wife of former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Joe Mokwa. He retired in 2008.
Torrisi-Mokwa was a leader in the business world. She ran her own leadership advisory firm, Congruence and previously worked for Boeing.
She was a leader in the charity world, too. Torrisi-Mokwa spent two decades with the Humane Society of Missouri.
"People truly gravitated towards Jan because she had one of those magnetic, charismatic personalities,” Kathy Warnick, the president of the Humane Society of Missouri, said.
Torrisi-Mokwa founded their Women's leadership council and raising hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars for animals in need.
"You just wonder why. Why was someone who was so good, so kind, so terrific and so helpful to literally thousands, why was she taken too soon from this earth? And that's a question all of us our wondering about,” Warnick said.
Jan was killed Monday afternoon, when a car crashed into a wall on the Lindell Union Bridge, sending a huge concrete slab onto Forest Park Parkway, crushing her Tesla.
"We're talking about a 2,500 pound slab pushed off the bridge. That's what happened here yesterday,” said Todd Walterman, the mayor’s director of operations.
Walterman said it was a freak accident. A speeding white car was trying to make a left turn and lost control when it crashed.
Despite the bridge's poor rating for years, Walterman said bridge engineers have been out to inspect it since the wreck, and it's safe.
"We’re not going to repeat this again, OK? It's not going to happen again like this. It can't happen, OK?" he said.
Statement from Humane Society of Missouri
We are truly devastated and deeply saddened by the tragic death yesterday of our dear friend and generous benefactor Janet Torrisi-Mokwa. Into every meeting and event Jan brought a bright smile, tremendous energy and creativity, and an ever-present “we can do more” attitude. Failure was not in her vocabulary.
As one of the founders of the Humane Society of Missouri’s Women’s Leadership Council, our annual Purses and Pumps for Pooches and Pals event and numerous other initiatives, Jan laid the foundation for the donation of millions of dollars that helped hundreds of thousands of homeless animals rescued and cared for by the Humane Society of Missouri. Jan also was a member of the Humane Society of Missouri’s Friends Council and Board of Directors, and for many years provided leadership counsel and inspiration to our organization.
Our most heartfelt sympathies are extended to Jan’s family and particularly her husband, Joe Mokwa, also a long-time friend and benefactor of the Humane Society of Missouri. Jan truly made a difference for all of the people and animals at the Humane Society of Missouri. She will be sorely missed.
Kathy Warnick, President
The bridge was one of many 5 On Your Side looked at with a civil engineer in an investigation in May of 2017. During the inspection, concrete crumbled in the engineer's hand and large chunks of it dropped from overhead.
Mayor Lyda Krewson's statement
Today’s tragic accident at Lindell and Union boulevards over Forest Park Parkway is under investigation. City departments are working to gather all the facts. Further information will be released in the coming days.