I (Sal) was at my weekly Morris Literacy Project: ESL Classes ( at the Morris Elementary School in Morris, Minnesota around 7:55pm of Wednesday, August 1st of 2007) when I first heard (Steve, coordinator, told me) of this tragic news (see down below)...
Right when I heard about this, I went to the computer after Steve kind of encouraged me to. I was looking at different articles from different local agencies. I didn't even bother calling my family because I knew they were safe. My brother takes I-94 going home from Minneapolis. However, I almost got a tense moment when I was reading the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I mentioned Marcelo (full first name) Cruz...(see down below), which I sighed relief as I continue to read on...woh!
While looking at the WCCO-TV site (later the Twins site), we found out the Twins game for tomorrow would be postponed. Steve asked me to confirm that, so I called the Twins ticket number. They confirmed it and I affirmed them in my voice "God bless" as the receiver sounded a little tense. Steve would remain on the phone during the rest of the evening to let certain folks that were planning to attend tomorrows game will be postponed (He was head organizer of the bus trip for the Morris Commmunity Education department to take a coach bus to the game) I then called my younger bother later about the article I saw, which we chuckled then became serious to pray for the situation. I ended the call by saying "God bless too". It would be around 9:25pm when I left the school and Steve would tell me "God bless" too after we ended our night just reminiscing of the recent events with sadness.
During the evening classes, we (Steve and I) invited the students to look at the pictures we found on the internet. We all look at it with disbelief. I would later get a text message with an unfamiliar number with this text..."I"m ok, I've driven over that bridge yesterday. Thank you for your concerns". I couldn't figure out whose number it was because I haven't stored all my phone #'s from my old cell. I would later found out it was a friend (Mircel O.) of mine that will be a senior at UMM this Fall and is studying at the UofM-Twin Cities campus this summer. He would tell me about all the chaos (flying helicopters overhead, similar to 9/11) that was going around his campus apartment (located "50 feet away") during and currently going on (10:30pm).
It's close to midnight and I just finished watching live reports on television (some college student was interviewed by WCCO-TV and mentioned that "he just had to what he had to do" during his "bravery" of rescuing victims out of the collapsed bridge by the river and ended his interview by encouraging listeners to "express how you feel and tell each other I love you to everyone you know"-paraphrase) after adding these news quotes down below. I'll keep you posted and please keep everybody in this situation in prayer.
"Heavenly Father, we just pray for all the people (e.g. victims, families affected, emergency responders, city/gov't officials, etc..) involved in this unfortunate tragedy. We lift all those in the hospitals right now that you just touch them with your healing power. Give everyone peace and comfort through your Holy Spirit throughout these unfortunate circumstances. In the end, we pray that you get all the Glory..In Jesus' name we pray...Amen!"
"The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace."-Psalm 29:11
Today (Friday, August 3rd of 2007) I continue to add more articles, testimonies, etc.. on this site as I can just only read, watch, and hear about this tragic incident days after. Yesterday, I got a call from a friend from Bulgaria asking me if I was "ok" and was wondering what is going on. He was watching some news footages all the way in Bulgaria! I e-mailed him this website and told him to pray for everyone here. I then went to my facebook and got the same quetion from a friend from China. Wow, this news of this tragedy is really getting around the world! There are a lot of different groups being formed in facebook, which I joined one 6 hours hours after this incident. This group had about 500 then, and it's now up to over 3,000 as of this morning around 10am. I've been reading some cool messages and even pasted the ones that are very well written down below. I read many messages from people out of state that they as a state are praying for us-very touching!
I finally had the chance to visit (Saturday, August 25th of 2007) around the area where ther bridge collapse as I was visiting my family and friends in St. Paul during my week (Saturday, August 25th-Sunday, September 2nd of 2007) vacation from work. It was a beautiful sunny day and I went over to the Stone Arch building behind the Guthrie Theatre. It was actually a quiet moment with other visitors at the "memorial site". I just stared it with awe and was praying....
Above are pictures (l-r) of:
1-what is left of the debris of the bridge (most of it already picked-up), but you can see the green iron/steel posts dangling in the air with onlookers to your left on the stone arch bridge.
2-a KSTP or news van still on the scene
3-south view of the bridge on the Washington Ave. bridge overpass
As of today (Tuesday, August 28th of 2007), there are a recorded 12,136 members that has joined the Facebook: A Minnesota Catastrophe - The Collapse of the 35W Bridge 8/1/07 group. It has really grown as I just posted a message and this site on it.
"Gary Chapman's "Sweet Jesus"
TY to the photographers, and God bless everyone who might see this (and to taxpayer dollars that brought us this GREAT image of Earth!) We are all precious in God's eyes. Remember to be a hero in any way you can if the chance arises.
Our hearts are with you Minnesota - Youtuber, Password *check out my others videos*"
"Dave Scharnhorst remembers the roar of rush hour as he crossed the I-35W bridge on Aug. 1, 2007.
Scharnhorst, an IT worker for the Salvation Army and a Columbia Heights resident, was heading home from Albert Lea, Minn., that day, traveling north on 35W. Soon he was crossing the bridge.
"I heard behind me what I thought was heavy construction," Scharnhorst, now 44, recalls. "I thought, 'Why would they be doing such heavy construction during rush hour?'"
To his left, he noticed a construction worker getting out of a portable outhouse in one of the construction staging areas set up on the bridge. "He looked south and ran north," Scharnhorst says. And the noise got louder.
The noise, he soon figured, was not road construction.
Scharnhorst didn't know what to make of what was happening, but he instinctively pressed on the gas pedal of his 2000 Dodge Intrepid, goosing the vehicle's speed from about 30 mph to 40. Then he felt the back axis of his car buckle, and buckle again. "It bounced a bit."
Scharnhorst's car made it off the bridge, and thinking he'd check out his car and what had just happened, he pulled over, bracing to venture out into the traffic jam.
Except there wasn't one.
"One car went by," he says, "and there was no more traffic."
Scharnhorst says one picture of the aftermath in the Star Tribune shows that his car and that other car were the last two to make it off the northbound side of the I-35W bridge. But, in the moment, Scharnhorst didn't know that was the case. In fact, he had no idea what to make of the scene.
"There was a huge plume of dust, cement and dirt. And as soon as that went over, that was it. Silence."
Confused at the eerie and surreal scene, Scharnhorst struggled to grasp what had happened. "I was seeing it, and it just didn't make any sense," he says. "What is it? The bridge fell?"
The other end of the bridge
Surely Scharnhorst's reaction was similar � if not exactly the same � to those of the hundreds who were caught on the bridge. And not unlike the reaction from the thousands, and then millions, who watched the footage on local and then national television.
Indeed, in the immediate aftermath, confusion was the order of the day. Surely a bridge doesn't just pancake into the river like that. Naturally, terrorism theories abounded in those first few hours, despite declarations from law enforcement and then elected officials that there was no reason to suspect such activity.
What could otherwise explain it? Fate? No, not likely just that.
But fate is maybe part of an answer to Scharnhorst's narrow escape, just as it was for the legion of motorists who crossed the bridge just minutes, even seconds, earlier. Or maybe it was part of the answer for those who were stuck in traffic, and never made it onto the bridge on either end before it collapsed.
But what about the others? Fate can be cruel, so goes the clich�, but not so cruel as to take the lives of 13 and take a piece of the lives of those hundreds who were seriously injured or scarred, physically or emotionally. Nothing else could explain that away.
On the other side of the river, on the southbound side of the bridge, Chuck Hoffman was having a sort of mirror-image experience to Scharnhorst's at the same time.
The computer-tech specialist from New Brighton was traveling about 25 mph in his Subaru Forester, and, he, too, noticed some construction workers. "They were getting ready to leave for the day, and they were packing up their coolers," Hoffman, now 61, says. "Then the car started dropping. And then it dropped again."
Hoffman looked in his rearview mirror and saw nothing � that is, the bridge had vanished behind him. "I looked at the section I was on at the far end � that never collapsed � and it was undulating like water."
He realized he was on the last section of what seemed to be a falling bridge, and stepped on it. "I thought, Holy shit, I wonder if I'm going to get off of here."
He did, though he's not sure how or why. And suddenly, like Scharnhorst, he was virtually by himself.
"There were a lot of cars, and then it seemed like I was alone," Hoffman recalls. "I suppose in a situation like that, you develop a sort of tunnel vision, but I sure didn't see anybody behind me.
"About a week later on 'CCO [WCCO television] � they had gotten footage from the traffic camera. They showed traffic leaving the bridge, and all of a sudden, there's one more car. That was me. I was the next car ahead of that school bus. I was that car."
I arrived at the site, as a reporter, about 15 minutes after the bridge fell, having ridden my bike from my nearby condo. After initially heading toward the river bank and seeing the destruction from about 70 yards away, I was shooed away by a Minneapolis police officer, who told me media types were being corralled at a nearby parking ramp on 13th Avenue South, overlooking West River Road.
When I got to the ramp, the first person I talked to was Chuck Hoffman. He had successfully exited the interstate onto Washington and pulled into that parking ramp. His recollection today is much like what he told me then. "I looked in my rearview mirror, and in about two seconds it was down," I have him saying in my notebook at the time. "I'm just getting over the shakes."
But I noticed that Hoffman was oddly calm and lucid, and in fact didn't seem terribly shaken.
"I was in shock," Hoffman says now. After the collapse, we looked at the damage together for a few more minutes � we both agreed that the dead probably numbered in the hundreds � and Hoffman sort of shrugged and said he was going to go home.
Then he climbed in his Forester, negotiated through the throngs of gawkers and rescue vehicles, and drove away.
'I began falling, nose first'
Somewhere in-between Scharnhorst and Hoffman, Garrett Ebling was having a different experience�not a sensation of silence or isolation, but the unmistakable sensation of falling.
The Plymouth resident, who works in the communications department for Great Clips corporate offices, had the windows down and the radio up in his Ford Focus. He was in the far-right lane of the southbound side, a third to halfway across the bridge � maybe equidistant from Scharnhorst and Hoffman.
"When the bridge collapsed, the center span fell in two sections," Ebling, now 33, writes in an email interview. "The south section fell first. I was on the north section so I witnessed the cars on that south section plummet into the river a fraction of a second before I began falling, nose first. I was driving a small car, a Ford Focus hatchback. When they pulled the car out of the river, the entire front end was smashed all the way back to the windshield."
Ebling was in no better shape: he suffered two broken feet, a severed colon, a broken arm, a broken jaw, crushed facial bones, nerve damage to right eye, loss of smell, a collapsed lung and ruptured diaphragm. The Ford Focus had done a nose dive into some concrete and ended up in the water. By the time someone rescued Ebling, his car was in the water and sinking.
"The car was half in the water and half on top of debris," Ebling writes. "I was pulled out by two men. My seat belt had jammed so they had to cut it to free me. When they pulled me out, the water was up to my neck."
Ebling has had to piece his story together, either because the trauma left him unconscious or he has blocked some things out. "I don't recall much was wrong until the actual collapse. I felt a swaying motion a split second before watching the span in front of me plunge into the river. At the time I had already had my driver's window rolled down and the music was on pretty loudly so I didn't hear anything, nor did I see any construction workers scamper, as some have said."
Besides that, Ebling doesn't recall much, which may be a good thing, he writes. "Because of amnesia, I don't recall the events immediately following the collapse. I was conscious but I must rely on accounts of others, news accounts, youtube, etc. to fill in the gaps. Therefore, I don't have memories except for the moment just before and during the collapse. I have not been haunted through nightmares, etc. The amnesia really is a blessing."
'What should I do?'
While Ebling's car was filling with water, Scharnhorst was still pulled off to the side of the road, trying to comprehend what had happened.
"On the northbound side, there were no cars at all," he recalls, adding that he was in "classic shock." "My immediate feeling was I should do something. But what should I do?"
Scharnhorst looked over the side of the bridge on the northbound side, and saw nothing underneath the bridge, just an embankment. On the southbound side, there was a section of bridge at an angle so steep that he couldn't get down the bank to rescue anyone. He turned to the woman whose car had immediately followed his, and he comforted her.
"She was really shaken up, and her dashboard had jarred loose. She was fine, but she wasn't sure she was fine," Scharnhorst says. "I spent my time with her and tried to help her grasp what was going on. She said, 'Did a bridge fall down?' And I said, 'I think it did.'"
For 45 minutes, the couple � Scharnhorst does not remember the woman's name � tried to call their spouses on cell phones, and surveyed the wreckage from above, thinking there were hundreds dead. Eventually they each drove up the interstate to the Metrodome Sheraton, where the woman's husband came to pick her up. Scharnhorst made his way home.
"It was very calm, surreal and serene in a very macabre sense," Scharnhorst says. To this day, Scharnhorst carries a bit of what he calls "survivor's remorse," and wonders if he should have done more to join the rescue efforts, especially after he got home and saw the footage on TV � though he's not sure what he could have done.
"Her and I worked together, and I can't make more of it than what it was," Scharnhorst says, downplaying the idea of being a hero. "My job was to be there for her, and I believe she was there for me. I needed to worry about her, so I didn't worry about me."
'Nothing short of a miracle'
Hoffman, like Scharnhorst, made it home to see what he had just survived on television. But Hoffman doesn't feel like he's a survivor, necessarily. "I was not part of the catastrophe," Hoffman says. "I was outside of it, but close to it."
Both men say they've been largely free of psychological trauma that afflicted many of the others involved in the collapse. "I had a couple of bad dreams," Hoffman says. "But I don't think I suffered from post-traumatic stress. I've been lucky."
Scharnhorst says he thinks about the disaster every day, but mostly about what he could have done for others. "I wonder if I'm just making stuff up to justify my reaction," he says. "But realistically there's nothing I could do."
He has one shot of gallows humor: "Hopefully my speeding that day [from Albert Lea] was justified."
Scharnhorst plans to attend the memorial ceremony on Friday evening at Gold Medal Park, if for no other reason than to find the woman he came to know that day. (Hoffman is on a trip and won't make the ceremony.)
As for Ebling, he's counting his blessings too.
"Overall, I'd say my physical recovery is nothing short of a miracle, all things considered," he writes. "I still have discomfort in my left foot � it can cause me to limp a little at times � and there is arthritis in it, so that likely will be a lifelong thing. There is a possibility of future surgeries on that foot or my face should things change over time. I've got braces on my teeth � working on getting my teeth all lined up again."
Despite suffering and recovering from harrowing injuries, Ebling says now the psychological part needs work.
"Mental/emotional recovery has taken longer," he writes. "Started seeing a mental health counselor in January and still attending. Have Adjustment Disorder, like PTSD, but [I] don't have the flashbacks/nightmares. But things have improved greatly. Feeling more reconnected to the world and not so sullen."
He's had plenty of time to contemplate all that happened, but ultimately feels positive: "I think when the collapse happened, the volume of support from family, friends and strangers was difficult to digest. When tragedy strikes the world still responds � that's wonderful to feel firsthand."
But he cautions that he hasn't been all warm and fuzzy. "It was a very frustrating period for me," he writes of his conflicting emotions. "People were going about their lives all around me and I felt like my old life had been taken from me and I didn't know how to get this new one successfully started. It still can be a struggle at times. On the flip side, I feel like I've been given this second chance at life. Not many people get that. So now I sit and ponder what to do with it."
The Saturday before the bridge collapse, Ebling proposed to his girlfriend, Sonja Birkeland. By the following Wednesday, he was in the midst of an unthinkable disaster. On Friday, Ebling's first anniversary of surviving that, he says that at 6 p.m., he'll say a prayer for the deceased and the survivors.
But he won't be at the memorial service. He and his fianc�e are headed up north. They're getting married this weekend.
G.R. Anderson Jr., a former reporter and senior editor for City Pages, covers politics, the state Capitol and issues related to public safety."
"A sense of community, perhaps, but basically sheer instinct drove a former University of Minnesota, Morris student immediately to assist the victims following the collapse of the I-35W bridge.
From the third floor of the West Bank Office Building
where he works as an intern for the American Indian Community Tobacco Project, Isaiah Brokenleg heard �a very loud thunderous and deep rumbling sound that lasted for about six seconds but felt more like 15.
�I was talking to my supervisor about getting something to eat when the bridge collapsed,� recalled Brokenleg.
�I stood up, went over by the window and was shocked at what I saw. I was able to see the tail end of the bridge collapse, just the bridge settling in after its fall. There was a large plume of grey-ish white-ish colored smoke near the area where the bridge broke. There were cars stopped just before the area where the bridge broke off. There were cars still on the bridge and there was destruction everywhere. I looked toward the other side of the bridge and saw the mangled iron and broken concrete. I took this all in for a short period of time. It felt like minutes but it was only a couple of seconds. It was all so surreal,� he said.
After he called 911, Brokenleg and Kris Rhodes, his supervisor, headed to the site thinking essentially that they would offer to give commuters a ride home. �There were no emergency medical people there yet. It wasn�t until we got closer that we saw the extent of the trauma.
�As we walked closer and closer to the scene the tension level went up,� shared Brokenleg. �People were hurt, some were bloody, many had looks of fear on their faces. There was a large group of children in a grassy area next to the sidewalk. They were scared, screaming and crying; some were injured. We stopped and decided to focus our efforts there,� he added.
Brokenleg asked people if they were okay and, prior to the arrival of emergency personnel, tried to assess any serious injuries.
�I also asked people if they wanted to use my cell phone to call home,� he said. �Many of the parents were not at home yet and so many children left messages. If children did reach their parents, parents wanted to talk to me.�
Brokenleg was near the site when the semi-truck cab next to the school bus caught fire, which he said scared the children who began running for safety. He helped to calm them and gather them into a building so their parents could eventually locate them, while also guiding arriving parents who were searching for their children and connecting calling parents with their children via his cell phone.
�When the children heard their parent�s voices they began to cry,� shared Brokenleg. �I didn�t know what to tell them so I continued to reassure them that they were going to be OK and that everything would be alright. I didn�t know that this was true but I knew it would help calm them down. I tried my best not to show the fear or emotion as I knew it would just scare them more. It wasn�t until I got home that the tears and emotions emerged.�
Recalling his experience on Aug. 1, what will Brokenleg remember?
�The children. I will never forget the fear, terror and emotions I saw on their faces that day. I felt like there wasn�t enough I could do. I felt helpless in many ways and I wished I knew the right words to say or the right things to do,� he said.
As a UMM senior, Brokenleg received the President's Volunteer Service Award. He holds a bachelor�s degree with two self-designed majors, applied social/human rights and multicultural studies. He will soon complete a master�s of public health in community health education.
Although instinct drove Brokenleg to the bridge site, he would like to think that the instinct is a result of his experience while a student at UMM. His list of service and volunteer contributions as a UMM student are a textbook of engagement.
Although there were many heroes at the bridge site that day, said Brokenleg, he does not consider himself to be one of them.
�At UMM we are taught to be proactive and to be involved in our community,� he said. �I know many of my experiences there have taught me to see myself as a member of the community and not just a student. It is seeing the difference one person or one group can make that teaches us to stay active and know that we all can make a difference in any situation.�
"But amid all the death were untold scores of people amazed to have survived the fall.
"The first vehicle we came up on was completely submerged and crushed," Nelson said. "I asked a gentleman if he saw anybody get out of that vehicle. He looked at me and said, 'That was me."'...
Aron Dahlgren, a 23-year-old University of Minnesota graduate student, lay trapped inside his 2000 GMC Sierra, the vehicle pointed nose down, up against another car.
He felt something cold and wet. It felt like blood. Was he alive?
Then his truck rolled forward. He realized the cool liquid was the iced tea he'd been carrying. He shook off the stupor and climbed toward safety....
"...As many as 50 cars fell from the I-35W bridge to the Mississippi River. Rail cars with hazardous materials are trapped under the bridge.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said there was no structural damage to the bridge needing attention prior to the collapse. Pawlenty says the Minnesota Department of Transportation was fixing some cosmetic flaws.
New at 10:54 p.m.:
Several hundred people climbed to the top of the hill in nearby Gold Medal Park, which offered a partially blocked view of the collapsed bridge. A few cried, while others stood in circles and prayed.
New at 9:55 p.m.:
Several pastors and religious leaders are going to the Holiday Inn Metrodome where the families of victims are gathering.
"...New at 9:25 p.m.
Storms have moved out of the area. A cell of storms is moving through the Coon Rapids area but it should stay north of Minneapolis...
New at 8:52 p.m.:
A man who was helping children off the bus said that he was afraid a car near the bus could roll and crush them. All the kids were off the bus before the fire from a nearby truck spread....
New at 8:46 p.m.:
Three Salvation Army mobile feeding units along with more than a dozen emergency responders are on scene at the 35W collapse....
New at 7:57 p.m.:
"I thought it was just construction going on ... it was a free fall all the way to the ground," said one person who was on the bridge at the time. "Thank God I was wearing my seat belt. The only thing I was hit was the steering wheel."...
"...A school bus had just crossed the bridge before it collapsed. The bus did not go into the water, and broadcast reports indicated the children on the bus exited out the back door.
Christine Swift's 10-year-old daughter, Kaleigh, was on the bus, returning from a field trip to Bunker Hills in Blaine. She said her daughter called her about 6:10 p.m.
"She was screaming, 'The bridge collapsed,"' Swift said.
She said a police officer told her all the kids got off the bus safely.
Josetta Ollison, of Minneapolis, said her 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old niece also were on the bus.
"I haven't been able to talk to them, but they tell me they're OK," she said."
"She figured it was the first wave of injured.
"I would imagine we will still have some injuries trickling in throughout the night," Hill said.
Michael Vechell, 25, of Minneapolis, was travelling along 35W heading into Minneapolis when traffic came to a dead stop.
"There was a huge dust cloud moving to us," he said.
When he saw what was happening, he went to help get people out of their cars and later helped emergency workers carry injured people to ambulance. He described seeing cars in the river with huge cement slabs on it.
"It's pretty sad, man.'' he said.
The Minnesota Twins have postponed Thursday's game against the Kansas City Royals.
The groundbreaking for the new Twins stadium also has been postponed.
With rescuers rushing to the collapsed freeway bridge just four blocks from the Metrodome, "the last thing those first responders needed was an audience," Twins president Dave St. Peter said. So Wednesday night's game with the Royals went on as scheduled, just an hour after the collapse.
Thursday's game, however, won't be played until the Royals return to Minneapolis in a month. After consulting with the Department of Public Safety, St. Peter said, the team postponed the finale of the four-game series.
"To try to keep traffic controlled tomorrow, (we) feel as though we want to be respectful to the people trying to work in the situation," St. Peter said. "Moreover, out of respect for those lives that have been lost and the people impacted, we didn't think playing baseball tomorrow was the right thing."
No decision has been made about this weekend's four-game series with Cleveland.
St. Peter said all of the team's front-office employees and the players' families had been accounted for. But he acknowledged that the bridge was likely carrying several carloads of fans headed for the baseball game, and he said there were concerns that some concession employees may have been involved.
"Certainly there were Twins fans impacted by this," St. Peter said. "Yeah, it's a tough night to play baseball."
The Twins held a moment of prayer before the game, and public-address announcements were made several times between innings, advising fans of the collapse, asking them not to use cellphones, and warning of the impact on leaving the Metrodome after the game. "We're going to have challenges tonight getting people home," St. Peter said.
A light thunderstorm could be heading to downtown Minneapolis tonight - making it even more difficult for rescuers to locate victims of the bridge collapse.
The cluster of storm activity is moving east and should reach the metro area within the next hour or two, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Richardson at 8 p.m. The thunderstorms should continue moving eastbound to Ramsey County."
"...Two teens talked to reporter Greg Vandegrift and said they helped carry a pregnant woman off the bridge and to an ambulance. They said they helped get three others to safety as well.
They were absolutely shocked when got to the scene. They said they lived nearby and heard the collapse and just ran out to see if they could help....
*first thought this was my brother! I continue to read on and got a sigh of relief! "Marcelo Cruz, 26, of Crystal, who has used a wheelchair since being paralyzed in a shooting in South Carolina several years ago, was driving his van across the bridge toward downtown when he felt it began to wave up and down.
He steered into the concrete railing to stop himself from driving into the river, and saw many cars on the bridge fall into the water.
His van came to rest steeply inclined toward the river and several onlookers ran and told him to get out. He said he needed help and the onlookers carried him out of his van in his wheelchair to safety on the riverbank.
"I'm lucky to be alive," he said over and over again.
"St. Paul, Minn. (AP) � The Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center released tapes and transcripts of some 40 calls on Friday, detailing the disaster's first few minutes.
About 100 people had called within two minutes of the 6:05 p.m. collapse. By then, dispatchers who showed initial disbelief at the first reports were crisply telling callers that help was on the way.
"And restless souls, such as Jennifer Fairchild, instinctively showed up at a Red Cross building shortly after the collapse to volunteer.
Fairchild had left early from work Wednesday and was in her car just after 6 p.m. when she heard reports of the bridge collapse. She drove to the Red Cross to offer her services -- whatever they might be.
She helped unload trucks, prepare food and deliver drinks to rescue workers. She was amazed at all the donations people and businesses kept bringing. So many people were willing to drop everything and help.
"That's a beautiful thing to me," Fairchild said. "It just seemed to come so naturally to so many people."
Ron Scherer had a similar gut reaction.
A sales rep for Johnsonville Sausage Co., he went down to the collapse scene around 7 p.m. Wednesday and offered to bring emergency workers some food.
They accepted, and he drove to a Cub Foods and bought 500 brats. The store donated the buns.
He returned to the site with a grill and a microwave oven, and he kept cooking until he had fed everyone.
The Caribou Coffee on Washington Avenue, just blocks from the collapsed bridge, has been open around the clock supplying free coffee to rescuers and the medical staff at Hennepin County Medical Center. The coffee shop is also giving free coffee to any uniformed rescue worker who walks in.
Target Corp. sent two trucks loaded with supplies to aid emergency crews, said spokeswoman Amy von Walter. The second truck, arrived Thursday morning, filled with T-shirts, towels, trash bags, dry-erase markers and other items.
And at the request of police, Target booked a half-dozen rooms at the Hyatt Regency Hotel to give rescue workers a place to rest.
General Mills announced Thursday that it is donating $50,000 to the Red Cross. It is also offering cafeteria space for rescue workers at the company's Riverside Technical Center a few blocks from the bridge.
Tim Dziedzic, a fire motor operator who works out of Minneapolis Fire Station 11, was among the emergency workers first on the scene. He said the efforts of ordinary people probably saved lives.
He called on them to help him carry tools and equipment used in the rescue effort until additional emergency workers arrived.
Still more help came later in the night in the form of people hauling food, water and Gatorade.
"We were short on water, and guys were getting close to dehydration. The community came through," he said. "I remember ladies bringing down one-gallon jugs of water in shopping carts. We were working on the north end, by the NSP plant, it's about a mile down. We were still rescuing."
Allie Shah � 651-298-1550
"Hanson, 36, was off duty Wednesday when the bridge collapsed. She grabbed her life jacket and soon was in the water beneath a pier, which was leaning from the weight of the sunken multi-ton roadway above it. Tethered to a yellow life rope, she swam to three submerged cars to search for survivors."
""There's people pinned, severely injured. We couldn't move them," said Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan. "It was an obviously dangerous situation, (with) stuff still falling.
"The decision was made to leave them."
Some were trapped and dying - and little could be done, Dolan said.
"In one case, someone with serious injuries was able to say goodbye to his family," he said, and rescue workers promised to take the message back to loved ones.
It happened more than once, said Dave Hildebrandt, a paramedic supervisor from Hennepin County Medical Center who was at the scene.
"Some of the medics did witness people that died in front of them, a lot of children crying, a lot of chaos, a lot of disbelief," he said.
One of the first responders, Sgt. E.T. Nelson, a 20-year veteran of the Minneapolis police, heard the 911 dispatcher announce the collapse as he was walking into the First Precinct.
Disbelieving what he heard on his radio, he asked her to repeat it. "It came out again, and I went, 'Jesus!' "
Arriving on the south side of the river within three or four minutes, he and Sgt. Karl Olson crawled on 12-inch beams over the water to a piece of the bridge in the river. When they reached the span - a swaying slab of concrete where 10 to 15 people were trapped and crying for help -"you could hear rivets popping
and snapping," said Nelson, 55. "You could hear the bridge creaking."
The first vehicle they came upon was completely crushed. Nelson saw a man standing nearby. "That was me!" the man said, pointing to his car.
He said rescuers tried to calm victims whose cars had plummeted.
"A couple of the girls were hysterical and couldn't understand how they got to that point," he said. "I explained it's not the fall that'll hurt you - it's the sudden stop at the end." That relaxed them a bit.
Once everyone was off that span, "we left on the last boat," Nelson said.
Steve Lydon, director of special operations for the Ramsey County sheriff's office, got to the scene about 10 minutes after the bridge collapsed.
He saw two Minneapolis police officers strip off their gun belts, jump into the water and swim out to cars to pull people out.
"It was very heroic on their part, and they didn't even think about it," Lydon said. "Not even a second thought."
With no command structure in place in those first moments, everyone - from civilians to professional rescuers - came together. A human conveyor line formed. People passed victims on backboards who had been plucked from the water.
"It just flowed," Lydon said. "People did the right thing."
Firefighters in T-shirts and shorts tied themselves to rebar on the bridge and swam out to get people. Civilians posted themselves near downed live power lines, warning others to avoid them.
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Hildebrandt, the HCMC supervisor, had been working almost nonstop for 24 hours.
"I did leave for four or five hours, but I was unable to sleep," Hildebrandt said. "The stress of the situation, and knowing you had to come back in the morning."
How does he de-stress?
"I just try to go to a quiet place, listen to music, watch some TV," he said. "Be alone."
Mara H. Gottfried contributed to this report.
Emily Gurnon can be reached at email@example.com or 612-338-6516.
University graduate Mark Lacroix had just returned from work to his 20th-floor apartment in the Riverview Apartments when the bridge collapsed.
Lacroix looked out his window and saw a scene he described as "a very surreal experience, in a word: unbelievable...."
Facebook aids in aftermath
An hour after the collapse, communications studies junior Laura Gatz started a Facebook group to keep information updated.
"Right away when everything was breaking I had editors from the AP and various newspapers going 'Do you have any actual news? Were you there?'" Gatz said. "It's like 'No, no, no, I'm sorry, I'm just a concerned citizen who wanted to help get the news out.' "
The group now has more than 10,500 members and more than 100 photos associated with the collapse.
Shoreview woman confirmed dead, Posted at: 08/02/2007 02:03:01 PM (KSTP) ""I lost my mom, I don't know," daughter Jessica Engebretsen said, as she choked back tears. "This is the hardest thing ever. It's really hard."
She spoke with her mother, 60-year-old Sherry, Wednesday around 5:30 p.m. She said her mother never drove over the 35W bridge, but for some reason the family believes she did Wednesday. They have not heard from her since.
"Just trying to get ahold of her, and nothing. We don't know where her car is," the daughter said. "No license plate, nothing. No names at the hospital. We called every hospital in sight."
The woman's husband, Ronald, was also visibly shaken. The couple had been married 32 years.
"She's a fighter. My wife's a fighter," Ronald said before he heard the tragic news. "She will do anything she can to work herself out of this situation. She's a great person, a loving wife and I love her so much.""
"Four families now know for sure that their loved ones didn't survive the tragic event and Thursday night their identities were released to the public.
The names of those confirmed dead are:
Sherry Lou Engebretsen of Shoreview, Minnesota. The 60-year-old's husband and daughters have been waiting for word at the Holiday Inn Metrodome and tonight they have the outcome they feared, but hoped against.
Julia Blackhawk of Savage, Minnesota. The 32-year-old died from blunt force trauma.
Patrick Holmes of Mounds View, Minnesota was 36-year-old. He died in the fall.
Artemio Trinidad-Mena of Minneapolis was 29-years-old and died of blunt force injuries.
Twenty to 30 other people remained unaccounted for according to Minneapolis police chief Tim Dolan."
"(AP) Minneapolis The remains of the last person missing after a bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River nearly three weeks ago were found Monday, authorities said, bringing the official death toll to 13 and relief to the only family still awaiting word on a missing loved one.
Gregory Jolstad, nicknamed "Jolly," was on the construction crew that was resurfacing the Interstate 35W bridge when it fell Aug. 1 during the evening rush hour. Jolstad, 45, was driving a skid loader, commonly known by the brand name Bobcat.
Divers found Jolstad's body around 6:15 p.m. Monday, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said. The discovery ends what's been called the recovery phase of the operation, clearing the way for contractors to begin moving the massive pieces of bridge wreckage lying in the river and along its banks..."
Christine Sacorafas was running late for the Greek folk dancing class she was supposed to teach at St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church. She had called a fellow instructor to say she might not make it on time.
Sacorafas, 45, of White Bear Lake, had moved to Minnesota less than two years ago after her marriage broke up, and quickly immersed herself in church activities, said the Rev. Paul Paris.
At Christmas, she dressed like an elf and delivered gifts to children. The past few weeks, she had been helping children learn the dances they would perform at a Greek festival in September.
"She has a vibrant, loving personality. ... She has a big smile, a big heart, and really endeared herself to the church," Paris said.
Tears fell at a prayer service where her friends tried to hold onto hope. "She's got a lot of people praying for her," Paris said.
In the past week or so, Sacorafas had e-mailed friends a story about life that, to Paris, now seems prophetic.
"At the end, she said something like, 'Don't worry that your life will end. Worry that your life never started."'
Sacorafas was a native of Detroit and a member of the second generation of Greeks who had emigrated from Samos. She enjoyed quilting and sewing and had recently enrolled in a ballroom dance class with her boyfriend. She also had registered for an American Sign Language class in hopes of becoming an interpreter.
RICHARD CHIT and VERA PECK
Richard Chit was in a car with his mother, Vera Peck, when the bridge collapsed. Relatives said Richard Chit had Down syndrome, making him virtually inseparable from his mother.
"One of them wouldn't survive without the other, so maybe that's just the way it's supposed to be," sister Caroline Chit told MSNBC through tears.
She and her sister said that Richard was 20 and about to turn 21, and that they were looking forward to taking him out for a beer. Authorities listed Richard Chit's age as 21.
Veteran construction worker Greg Jolstad, 45, was operating a skid loader as part of the 18-man crew repairing the surface of the eight-lane bridge.
Red-haired and nicknamed "Jolly," Jolstad had been married to his wife, Lisa, for 12 years and had three stepchildren, ages 17, 18 and 19.
Family members said he never feared for his safety in his construction job, even when working high above water. "I think he just thought it was part of his job, a hazard, just one of the things you have to deal with," said his mother, Dorothy Svendsen, of Hinckley.
Relatives say he loved ice fishing, hunting and peach pie.
Peter Hausmann, a computer security specialist, is a former missionary who met his wife, Helen, in Kenya. He was heading to St. Louis Park to pick up a friend for dinner.
He called home while sitting in traffic. Then the line went dead. There has been silence ever since.
His family says they should have been celebrating: Hausmann, 47, of Rosemount, had just learned that the Kenyan government had ordered a new investigation into the 2000 shooting death of his friend, the Rev. John Kaiser.
Kaiser was a 67-year-old native of Perham, Minn., who had been in Kenya for 35 years.
SADIYA and HANAH SAHAL
Somali immigrant Sadiya Sahal, five months pregnant, had 2-year-old daughter Hanah in the back seat of her car as she sat in the stalled traffic.
The 23-year-old nursing student, married to mechanic Mohamed Sahal, was headed from St. Paul to pick up a friend who needed a ride home from work, said Omar Jamal, director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center.
Friendly and outgoing, Sadiya had moved to Minneapolis from Somalia in 2000, graduating from Washburn High School.
Scott Sathers, 29, of Maple Grove, worked in enrollment services at Capella University and was on his way home from work, using his usual route. School President Mike Offerman described him as "a valued friend."
(� 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. )
"There will also be a silent auction with music and sports memorabilia.
For more info, call the Fine Line at 612-338-8100.
Another bridge charity gig is in the works for Aug. 30 at Foundation in downtown Minneapolis, featuring Carnage and Desdamona, Leroy Smokes and Unknown Prophets, with additional acts to be announced. For more information, see MySpace.com/SPStyle. "
.... who lives closest to the bridge. I am posting them on his behalf as he has been evacuated from his home. I am also updating this post when I receive updates from him. If you have comments specifically directed towards Noah please reply to the post on his site, not on this Flickr page."
"(AP) Minneapolis Across the Twin Cities, in Spanish, Greek and English, the prayers rose up Sunday.
Prayers of peace for grieving families. Prayers of strength for those still searching the Mississippi River. And prayers of gratitude from those who were spared.
At St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, an estimated 1,400 people gathered Sunday night for an interfaith service that included responsive readings and singing by the church choir.
"We're here to begin the process of restoration," said Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "We are also here to begin the rebuilding process."
Some of those in attendance hugged and wiped tears from their eyes as speakers remembered the dead and missing.
Religious leaders offered prayers from the Bible and the Quran"
" An interfaith prayer service has been scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Sunday at St. Mark's Cathedral, 519 Oak Grove Street, in downtown Minneapolis for members of the public, first responders, and the families of the victims.
The interfaith prayer service will include a collection for relief efforts."
"I was moving into my frst apartment that day and actually was on the bridge at the time it started falling and my car was at a pont where it was at the end but still able to fall into the water. I am just so grateful that I wasn't there 10 seconds later or I actually might not be here today. My prayers go out to the familys who lost someone that day but also this taught me that I have more people then thought who cared about my safety and not mention that all of us could be here today and gone tomorrow. I will keep that in mind everyday for the rest of my life from now on."-Troyana R. (Mineapolis-St. Paul, MN from Facebook on 8/4/07)
"First I was complaining, God you should let me die (1st Brush of death when he was shot in N. Carolina). ..I have a mission here (after his 2nd brush of death)...Runs marathons and hopes others will embrace life"
*see Star Tribune Article above for more of this story
"A St. Paul woman told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS her amazing story of survival Thursday.
Thuy Vo was on her way to pick her mother up from work, when the bridge collapsed in front of her.
Instead of crashing into other cars, Vo conquered her greatest fear, and drove her car into the Mississippi River.
She doesn't know how to swim, but managed to stay afloat and eventually pull herself out of the water.
Vo was taken to the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview, recovering from minor injuries.
"During a news conference Thursday, Jeremy Hernandez starred blankly into the lenses of 20 cameras. National and local news reporters began firing questions at Hernandez like he was a rock star.
"I just heard a bang, it just crashed, boom, landed," Hernandez said.
He was in the third to last seat on a school bus, which was on the Interstate 35W Bridge when it collapsed. There were 50 kids on board, returning from a community center swim outing.
"They all started screaming, screaming, 'we're going to go into the river, we're going to go into the river,'" Hernandez recalled.
"My heart started beating fast, I just jumped over the seats, opened the back door, kicked out the coolers out and I turned around, and tried to throw kids off the bus," he said.
The bus was 30 feet below where the highway once was, dangerously close to the Mississippi River.
"I could feel the bridge still shaking, trying to tell to the kids 'you've got to get off the bridge, get off the bridge.' Then people were running up to the bridge, and saying, 'hand them to me' so I'm handing kids over to the guys," Hernandez told reporters.
It was amazing, watching a 20-year-old man from the Southside, a man who had been through so much in the past 12 hours, calmly and politely describe an unimaginable situation.
"Lucky that I'm alive, lucky that I can live to see another day. Lucky that no kids were killed or seriously injured," he said as his eyes moistened."
""The last thing I remember thinking was �Oh God, this is going to hurt�," Weese said.
Weese fractured his vertebrae, ribs and bones in his face, but said he considers himself lucky."
"I was southbound on 35W about 1.5 miles north of the bridge when it collapsed... i have never seen so many emergency vehicles in my life! we were headed to the twins game and we were detoured around the collapse onto 4th street, it was absolute chaos! every car there were people on their phones in panic mode. my family was lucky... we just happened to stop to pick up my dad, if we hadn't, chances are we could have been on it... i feel so blessed, someone is watching over us... even though 4 have died and there are some still trapped, we are very fortunate that there were not many more deaths... RIP victims of this horrible tragedy, your all in our prayers..."-
Kirsten K (Andover, MN from Facebook on 8/2/07) "It means so much when it hits close to home like this did. My dad was going to the Twins game and thankfully they stopeed to eat first. Or he would have been there. Don't loose faith, sometimes miracles happen even when they seem impossible"-Amanda M (MNSU from Facebook on 8/2/07) "I want to keep everyone who was on this bridge and their family and friends in my thoughts. I know how it feels to lose a loved one, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. If you are unsure of where your family member is, the best thing is to just give it time (I know easier said then done), and let God do his work. Keep praying, that has helped many people go through catastrophe's similar to this."-Sarah A (Grand Forks, ND from Facebook on 8/2/07)
Shanna Hanson, a Minneapolis firefighter and captain on Ladder 10, said she was backing her boat into her garage at home when she heard sirens. She called her fire station and heard what had happened....
"....I was a little concerned about unstable stuff underneath me that I couldn't see," she said at a Thursday afternoon news conference. Rescues in moving water always include the peril of entanglement and drowning, and swimmers use a "quick connect" to secure themselves to a rope, a last chance at their own escape."
"It's just part of the job," she said.
"....I heard the sound of screaming children and thought, 'That's good,' " Reeves said. "If it had been quiet, I would have been a lot more concerned."
A bleeding woman from the bus was handed to Reeves, who dressed the worst of her wounds with supplies from the first-aid kit he always keeps in his trunk. He pulled another woman to safety when a nearby truck burst into flames.
Reeves also bandaged the burly, bald man with broken ribs whose pained face was seen Wednesday night on virtually every TV news network. Reeves knew only that his name was Bill.
When the ambulances arrived, Reeves briefed them on the situation and stepped aside. Only then did he have time to absorb what might have happened if he had been just five seconds faster on the road.
"What I did," he said, "that's what I do. I'm a public servant."...
Lori Peterson survived a close call when the I-35W bridge collapsed, but she wasn't driving on the bridge. She was nearly crushed by it.
The 47-year-old Minneapolis woman was running along the Mississippi River on the path beneath the south side of the bridge. She passed under it and ran a couple of hundred feet further. Then she heard what sounded like an explosion.
"I honestly thought that someone was testing dynamite," she said. She turned around to see a cloud of dust and water. "And then it took a moment for my mind to register what had happened," she wrote in an e-mail account. The bridge was in the water. People were climbing out of their cars. And it was eerily silent.
"It seemed like forever before a siren could be heard - and then it was a lone police car on the other side of the river."
Some motorists on the bridge climbed up to join the stunned bystanders. One young driver was in tears as she called her mother on a cell phone. "Her entire body was trembling," Peterson said. "I put my hand on her shoulder."
Another elderly woman who was helped away from the site by a young man was smiling as she showed others on the riverbank her only injury, a bruised knee.
The scene then turned chaotic as emergency vehicles roared up and something on the bridge exploded, spewing black, lung-burning smoke and forcing the crowd back.
Peterson ended up with a crowd of spectators on the top of a hill at Gold Medal Park near the Guthrie Theater. "It was like a concert everyone was going to," she said. Only she couldn't stop crying.
"Then, I really got this deep-seated feeling that I needed to ask people if they wanted to pray," she said. She hesitated, but then she shouted out, "Does anyone want to pray for the people on the bridge?"
The crowd "looked at me like I was nuts," she said. She shouted out her request two more times. A young woman raised her hand and said, "Yeah, I want to pray with you."
"It just took that one person," Peterson said. About 15 others joined in, standing in a circle, holding hands and praying. "It felt good. It felt like I was doing something," Peterson said. "
-Nicole Kopari and Melissa "Missy" Wayne
University of Minnesota medical students Nicole Kopari and Melissa "Missy" Wayne were eating dinner in their home in downtown Minneapolis when Wayne's mother called Wednesday night and told them to turn on the TV.
"I looked at Missy and said, 'Should we go?' We looked at each other and said, 'We should go.' "
The pair put on running shoes and surgical scrubs and started running toward the scene of the bridge collapse. Along the way, they saw a third student, Heather Nelson, who had just finished a shift at Hennepin County Medical Center. They jumped in Nelson's car and drove toward an intersection where police were turning away traffic.
"We told them we were HCMC medical people and we were there to help," Kopari said. "We didn't want to say we were students."
The three were waved through. Kopari and Wayne got on a small boat and were shuttled to the north side of the river, where they joined a doctor assessing injured people and deciding who should be transported to the hospital first. They were soon joined by Nelson, a nurse and a dental student.
Sharing gloves and a stethoscope, they treated about 10 people, motorists on the bridge suffering back pain and broken bones. At least one was critically injured, Kopari said. Ambulances couldn't get down to the riverbank, so they loaded the injured onto pickup trucks.
"That's why we're becoming doctors in the first place," Kopari said, explaining their decision to rush to the river to help.
"We were just lucky enough to help people in their time of need on the bank of the river," Wayne said.
After the victims were evacuated and their work was done, the students walked back across the 10th Avenue bridge. Wayne said she only looked back once at the cars and rubble below.
"It was just too big of a disaster to look at. It was too close," she said.
My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone that is in any way affected by this incident! One of my husband's friends crossed that bridge just a few minutes before this happened. I hope everyone takes/took today to enjoy the things you have in life. Look around, smile at a stranger, call your loved ones you can't hug and hug the ones that you can!!! Take time to listen to your favorite song and think about what and who you have in your life and appreciate them! God bless!! All of Minnesota has been affected by this, keep everyone in your prayers!"-Angie G (?-Facebook on 8/2/07)
You seen the footages of this catastrophe. As many repeated interviews mentioned, those victims on that bridge could've been us (see A community refrain: "It could have been me" from KARE 11 TV). If it was you, I don't think you could imagine what would be running on your mind. For me, I probably would start having flashbacks of my life and pictures of different people that has been in my path (similar to those movies). I would probably start calling my love ones and give my final goodbyes. Most importantly, I would be having a little peace because I know I will be with my Heavenly Father, what about you? Do you know if you are going to Heaven if you did suddenly find yourself dying on that bridge? Take this test to learn more about this=> 2 Question Test Please contact me (Sal) and let me know how you did in the test or if you have any other concerns, prayer request, questions, etc.. God bless you all! I hope to see you in eternity someday!
"The collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis is a tragedy of gargantuan proportions but it was followed by bravery, stories of heroism and miracles also on a grand scale. Top firefighter, Chief Jim Clark of the Minneapolis Fire Department exclaimed that the first miracle was the low death toll. Clark said, ""We were surprised that we didn't have more people seriously injured and killed, I think it was something of a miracle." With upwards of 500 cars crossing the bridge at any given moment that qualifies as a miracle for most of us.
Words like "It was a miracle" or "I thank God he helped me" were commonly heard among survivors. The immediate reactions of the survivors sounded more like a time of testimony in a church than interviews with disaster survivors."
"COLLAPSE WITNESS: All I could think of was, God, this was not the way I wanted to die.
MAYOR R.T. RYBACK, Minneapolis: Thank God this wasn't worse. And thank also the incredible team of people who responded to this disaster."
"But my personal story is that, by the grace of God, no one in my family was hurt. No one I knew, as far as I know now, was near the area of the collapse. And for that, I am extremely grateful."
Our thoughts and prayers should now be for those who lost their lives and the family members grieving ... as well as those who suffered injuries and face a long recovery. But Minnesotans are up to the task. They don't call it "Minnesota nice� for nothing. They will pull together and help those who need it. Whatever their differences and whatever the challenges, people will bring great hope to something that seemed without hope ... and will bring new meaning to the phrase "The Great Minnesota Get-together."
"From rescue to recovery
By 1 a.m. CT Thursday, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said all search efforts had been called off for the night. At about 10:25 p.m. CT, officials said recovery personnel had moved from rescuing individuals to recovering bodies.
" A witness said it looked like "toy cars" were plunging into the water.
"I heard a terrible noise, and then I looked. It seemed like a piece of the bridge was pancaking and going down," said Janet Stately. "I said, 'Did we really see that? Did we really see that?' and it was unbelievable."
About 100,000 cars a day travel over the bridge, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation."
MINNEAPOLIS - An interstate bridge suddenly broke into huge sections and collapsed into the Mississippi River during bumper-to-bumper traffic Wednesday, killing at least six people and sending vehicles, tons of concrete and twisted metal crashing into the water.
The Interstate 35W bridge, a major link between Minneapolis and St. Paul, was in the midst of being repaired when it collapsed.
"There were two lanes of traffic, bumper to bumper, at the point of the collapse. Those cars did go into the river," Minneapolis Police Lt. Amelia Huffman. "At this point there is nothing to suggest that this was anything other than a structural collapse."
Jamie Winegar of Houston said she was sitting in traffic when all of a sudden she started hearing "boom, boom, boom and we were just dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping."
The car she was riding in landed on top of a smaller car but did not fall into the water. She said her nephew yelled, "'It's an earthquake!' and then we realized the bridge was collapsing."
Mayor R.T. Rybak said at least six people were killed. There were no immediate reports on the total number of injured, but Dr. Joseph Clinton, emergency medical chief at Hennepin County Medical Center, said the hospital treated 28 injured people — including six who were in critical condition.
Other hospitals also were treating the injured. Clinton said at least one of the victims had drowned.
The arched bridge, which was built in 1967, rises about 64 feet above the river. An estimated 50 vehicles plunged into the water and onto the land below, the Star-Tribune reported.
A burning truck and a school bus clung to one slanted slab. The bus had just crossed the bridge before it crumpled into pieces, and broadcast reports indicated the children on the bus exited out the back door.
Christine Swift's 10-year-old daughter, Kaleigh, was on the bus, returning from a field trip to Bunker Hills in suburban Blaine. She said her daughter called her about 6:10 p.m.
"She was screaming, 'The bridge collapsed,'" Swift said.
She said a police officer told her all the kids got off the bus safely.
Dozens of vehicles were scattered and stacked on top of each other amid the rubble. Some people were stranded on parts of the bridge that aren't completely in the water.
Melissa Hughes, 32, of Minneapolis said she was driving home across the bridge when she went down when the western edge in the collapse.
"You know that free fall feeling? I felt that twice," said Hughes, who was not injured.
A pickup ended up on top of her car, partially crushing the top and back end.
"I had no idea there was a vehicle on my car," she said. "It's really very surreal."
Many motorist could have been headed to the Minnesota Twins game scheduled not far from the bridge, but the game was postponed, team president Dave St. Peter said.
Ramon Houge told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he was on his way home from work on the bridge when he heard a rumbling noise, saw the ground collapse and cars go down.
Traffic was bumper to bumper and hundreds of people would have been involved, he said. He said cars backed up as best they could and he parked in a construction zone and was finally able to turn around and drive off the bridge. "It didn't seem like it was real," he said.
Local television stations captured video of injured people being carried up the riverbank. There was no official word on injuries, but dozens of rescue vehicles were there. Divers were also in the water.
Workers have been repairing the 40-year-old bridge's surface as part of improvements along that stretch of the interstate, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported on its Web site.
Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke also said the collapse did not appear to be terrorism-related.
"A Minnesota state senator, Satveer Chaudhry, said he drove over the bridge minutes before it collapsed and returned in his boat to help. He gave a ride to a volunteer rescuer who told Chaudhry "he saw (from a boat) stacks of cars submerged under water."
"...One victim trapped on land, Dolan said, could not be freed from the wreckage but was able to say a final goodbye to family members before he died....
'We Would Drop and Then Pause, Drop and Then Pause'
Many survivors compared the collapse and subsequent wreckage to an earthquake or the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Nevada Torrance, of Duluth, Minn., was driving in his car with his family when the 40-year-old bridge began to go. "It was a matter of two or three drops," Torrance told ABC News. "We would drop and then pause, drop and then pause."
Lynn Luban was captured on the Army Corps of Engineers video running from the collapsing bridge. She immediately called 911 and said the sound of the structure crashing into the river was enormous. "I've never heard that sound," she said. "I'd equate it to a train or a tornado or something."
Among the vehicles that safely came to rest on a collapsed section of the bridge was a school bus filled with children. They were seen exiting the rear of the bus; none of the children were seriously hurt.
The Coast Guard halted boat traffic on the Mississippi River Wednesday night for 5 miles to the north and south of the collapse.
Families have gathered at the Minneapolis Holiday Inn hoping for word on missing relatives or friends. At least six families were at the hotel this morning, according to officials, while others have reached out to authorities regarding missing loved ones.
The bridge, the state's most heavily trafficked, carries more than 100,000 vehicles each day and sits 64 feet above the river's surface, according to Chris Krueger, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.
At least 79 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment. One patient died at the Hennepin County Medical Center, Dr. Joseph Clinton, the medical director of emergency services, announced Wednesday evening. An additional 28 were admitted with various injuries, six of them critical.
Seven patients were admitted to Abbott Northwestern Hospital, according to spokeswoman Nancy Ebert, and others checked into hospitals across the area. "
"Hausmann, who grew up in Bonesteel, South Dakota, left his job in the Minneapolis suburb of New Brighton shortly after 5:30 p.m., said Jeff Olejnik, president of Assurity River Group, where he worked.
"From what I understand, he was on his way to pick up a dinner guest from Kenya they planned to have over," Olejnik said. "Peter spent two or three years in Kenya on a mission trip."
Hausmann met his wife, Helen, on one of those mission trips, Olejnik said...
Local nun reaches out to bridge collapse victims "Meanwhile, a local nun has been helping victims and their families cope with the tragedy, according to local Minneapolis TV station KSTP (www.kstp.com).
"Sister Rosalind Gefre is no stranger to Saint Paul
Saints baseball fans, but this past week she has offered her support those suffering though a loss of a loved one," the TV station said in an online report.
Gefre runs Sister Rosalind's Schools of Massage based on Christian principles which her website (www.sisterrosalind.org) says "seek to work in harmony with God's plan for spiritual, psychological and physiological well being."
The website states: "Our mission is to promote the healing of the body, mind and spirit through touch, following Jesus' example. We are committed to providing quality training for students to become highly-competent massage therapists."
The 77-year-old nun met with families and even gave her rosary to Lisa Jolstad, the wife of the only construction worker still missing. Jolstad said Sister Rosalind's presence helped ease her pain. She also gave neck and backrubs to relieve the tension victims' relatives have been feeling surrounding the trauma.
"Boy, she held me and it felt so good. It did. It felt so good," Jolstad said.
Sister Rosalind was glad to be able to help those suffering. "For me it was a tremendous gratitude that I went and did what I did out there," Sister Rosalind said.
See video of Sister Rosalind at: http://kstp.com/article/stories/S162662.shtml?cat=118"
"One of America's most deadly bridge breakdowns occurred in 1980, when a 1,000-foot section of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Florida collapsed after a freighter struck it during a storm. A Greyhound bus and several cars plunged 150 feet into Tampa Bay, killing 35 people.
While the Sunshine Skyway Bridge tragedy may be the worst U.S. bridge accident in recent memory, it was not as deadly as the 1967 Silver Bridge collapse. In December of that year, the eye-bar chain suspension bridge collapsed into the Ohio River at the height of rush hour, carrying 31 vehicles and 46 people with it. "
" (also known as Bridge 9340) (built 1967, collapsed 2007) was an eight-lane, 1,900-foot (579 m) deck-arch-truss bridge that carried Interstate Highway 35W across the Mississippi River. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) bridge was Minnesota's second busiest, carrying 141,000 vehicles daily"...
"Expressing condolences to the families of the victims and �prayers to those who wonder about whether they�ll ever see a loved one again,� the president promised to make it a priority to rebuild the bridge �in a way that not only expedites the flow of traffic but in a way that can stand the test of time"
�Our message to the Twin Cities is we want to get this bridge rebuilt as quick as possible,� the president said. �We understand this is a main artery of life here, that people count on this bridge, this highway system, to get to work.�
He said that �out of these tragedies can come a better life,� and said of the people in Minnesota, �not only are they committed to a better life, not only are they committed to turning something ugly into good, but it�s going to happen.�
"Peter Siddons, who was crossing the bridge on his way home from work when it collapsed, told NPR he heard a boom and saw the section of bridge disappear in front of him.
"My nose was down and the front of my car was going down and I thought this was it, I'm off the bridge and it's over," he said.
"But, then, it's surreal after that � you don't know what to do," he said. "You're looking for something, but you're not sure what you're looking for. You're looking for closure. I don't know. You're not ready to leave."
" LONG POND, Pa. (AP) -- NASCAR driver Bobby Labonte is paying tribute to those affected by the Minneapolis bridge collapse this weekend at Pocono Raceway.
Labonte's Number 43 Dodge will have a special decal on the hood and bumper for Sunday's race that will honor the victims and those hurt when the 35W bridge collapsed.
The decal features a silhouette of the state with a heart and the date of the accident on top"
"DETROIT -- Road construction put Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders on the 10th Avenue bridge Wednesday in Minneapolis.
I got out of my car and the first thing I heard was the kids screaming on the bus. I called 911. I didn't really know what else I could do.
The detour perhaps saved his life.
"I usually take the 35W bridge, but the ramp was closed," Saunders said Thursday from Minneapolis in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "My daughter was driving in a car right behind me when the bridge collapsed -- about 20 yards away from us. It sounded like a bomb when it dropped.
"I got out of my car and the first thing I heard was the kids screaming on the bus. I called 911. I didn't really know what else I could do," he said.
Saunders, a former Minnesota Timberwolves coach, was driving home after speaking at Tubby Smith's basketball camp at the University of Minnesota, where Saunders starred as a player.
"A day later, I'm still in a surreal state of mind," he said. "I can still see what happened. It's kind of like having flashbacks."
Divers checked submerged cars in the Mississippi River on Thursday for victims still trapped beneath the twisted steel and concrete slabs of a collapsed bridge.
"Our staff was in our office when we heard the news and we walked down to the bridge to see if there was anything we could do. ... We were told at the scene there was nothing we could help with and followed the authorities' request to clear the area," Smith said in a statement Thursday. "Obviously, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. Our program, athletic department and university will do whatever we can to help our community recover from this disaster."
"MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA (ANS) -- Intercessors throughout the Upper Midwest and from across the nation are being encouraged to join in a conference telephone call tonight to pray for the Twin Cities and the impact of the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in which at least four people have been confirmed dead.
As of now, there are four confirmed dead, 20-some people missing, and nearly 80 people injured. Many families are grief-stricken as they deal with the deaths of loved ones or the unknown status of those still missing. Others remain in critical condition in the hospital. The death toll is expected to rise as rescue and recovery workers return to work today.
As of this writing, divers have not yet returned into the Mississippi River because the collapsed bridge structure is still unstable and the current in the river is at dangerous levels.
In addition to those directly affected by the disaster, this bridge collapse has major implications for the Twin Cities metro area because a major freeway artery has been destroyed.
"The long-term implications are still unknown at this point, but the impact will be significant for months and perhaps years to come," says Steve Loopstra, executive director of the Minneapolis-based Prayer Transformation Ministries (formerly Midwest Concerts of Prayer).
Loopstra commented: "As the Church of the Twin Cities, we need to be in united in prayer for those whose lives have been dramatically altered. We need to seek God's grace and mercy, as well as listen carefully to what He is saying to His Church at this moment in history. Please join us for this conference phone call as we seek the Lord together."
The call will be hosted by Prayer Transformation Ministries tonight, Thursday evening, August 2, from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. Central Time.
Loopstra explained that intercessors may call in, listen to the prayers of others, and join in as God leads you. "This is a time to be united with other intercessors from around the state," he said. You may join or leave the call at any time.
To join this conference call and prayer time, simply call 1-712-580-0393 and enter the passcode: 629814, then press #. You do not need to "announce yourself." Please note that this is a long-distance call, but most wireless plans include free long distance.
Loopstra said the conference prayer call is sponsored by Prayer Transformation Ministries. "Periodically we will issue e-mail alerts for special prayer times over the phone. This is designed to bring intercessors from around the Twin Cities and state together for special or crisis prayer times."
Steve Loopstra, Prayer Transformation Ministries, may be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at: www.prayertransformation.com. "
"The images are striking -- a yellow school bus teetering on the edge of the ruined bridge, kids trapped in the wreckage, a fire blazing nearby.
Immediately, several people helped the children escape the wreckage.
While all of the children, who ranged from 5 to 13 years old, survived the incident, 15 people received medical attention, including 12 children. Two adults and two children remained hospitalized as of 11 a.m. this morning.
Related Sites: Pillsburn United Communities "All children on bus involved in 35W bridge collapse safe after accident
Minneapolis, MN --- Students who were part of a Waite House summer program field trip to Bunker Hills on Wednesday, August 1 were involved in the 35W bridge collapse. All of the people on the bus were evacuated. Fifteen people received medical attention immediately following the accident, including twelve children, two staff people and the bus driver. As of 11:00 a.m. Thursday, two adults and two children remain hospitalized.
Pillsbury United Communities-Waite House is providing counseling services for families involved in the accident. A fund has been established to provide assistance for medical bills. History of Pillsbury United Communities & the Settlement House Movement "In 1905, John and Charles Pillsbury, brothers who were greatly benefiting from the success of their flour mills, gave $40,000 towards the construction of a new facility. The building, located near the intersection of what is now Cedar and Riverside Avenues, was completed in 1906, and named Pillsbury House in honor of their parents. It then added a health clinic, a women�s employment office, home economics and arts classes, and boys� and girls� clubs. In 1920, Pillsbury House purchased land in Waconia, Minnesota, and established Camp Manakiki, a place where children and their mothers could go to escape the city and enjoy the country.' Bridge Collapse Survivor: "It was just me and God"
"She felt her car drop, then she heard a voice. Michele describes her miraculous escape from death when the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, killing 13 people in 2007. "
""We were surprised that we didn�t have more people seriously injured and killed," said Minneapolis Fire Chief Jim Clack. "I think it was something of a miracle."
A number of reasons for the minimal number of fatalities and injuries were given by Clack: a bridge designed to limit falling debris, a fast rescue response and slow traffic speeds to curtail the magnitude of water impact.
Another reason given by top analysts for the relatively low number of incidents was the drought, which is responsible for the slow current and shallow depth of the Mississippi. "
""We were thankful to get a report that a car carrying friends to the Twins game at the Metrodome passed over the bridge at 6:03 p.m., just a few minutes before the bridge collapsed. But while we were relieved and rejoiced to get this word, we mourn with those who mourn."
Rich Scherber, Executive Director of Minnesota Teen Challenge (MnTC), at www.mntc.org , one of the largest residential drug and alcohol programs in the state of Minnesota, says the ministry is thanking God on several fronts for His awesome protection during the bridge collapse on Interstate 35 Wednesday.
"This bridge is located just � mile from our main center and is traveled hundreds of times by many of our students and staff as the main route to the Northeast metro area," he said.
"I have heard almost a dozen stories from employees and students who were on this bridge just minutes before it went down. I want to share three of the most powerful miracles," Scherber said in an e-mail obtained by ASSIST News. "
*same story as the one right above, but you get a vocal testimony here "Earlier today, we spoke with Rich Sherber, the executive director of Minnesota Teen Challenge, whose ministry is located near the bridge.
"We have hundreds of our staff that travel that bridge daily," Sherber said"
"MINNESOTA BRIDGE COLLAPSE TRIBUTE:ACCIDENT AND RESPONDERS"
"..Three years later, family transformed by bridge disaster
The tragedy left Americans wondering about the safety of bridges and tunnels in their hometowns. Later, the tragedy threw a world of attention on the new bridge that would be built in its place. The new bridge, completed in September 2008, is expected to stand for 100 years. ..
Builders and designers completed the 10-lane Interstate bridge three months ahead of schedule at a price of $233.8 million. "It was pretty amazing," said Phipps of the marathon project. "I paid for it with a lot of my hair and so did a lot of other people."
At a total cost of about $1 million including wire connections and power sources, the sensors don't eliminate the need for visual inspections, but they do provide an extra layer of maintenance security.
The sensors monitor corrosion, stress and the movement of the bridge from the constant traffic.
"The fiber-optic strain gauge technology is fairly cutting edge," said Phipps. "A tiny beam of light is used to measure very small differences in the movement of the bridge when vehicles pass over."
"All I can say is 'praise God' because He spared me�to walk away from that.... I can't even believe it happened, but I actually walked away."
(Minnesota)�Louis Welman, a Minnesota resident, was one of those commuters driving over the I 35 W bridge, this past Wednesday, when it suddenly collapsed without warning, tossing cars into the Mississippi River, crushing and pinning others.
Louis not only survived the horrific ordeal of falling over 60 feet in her car, but�when she called on Jesus�she experienced peace in the midst of the turmoil.
The following is Louis' testimony of God's supernatural protection, in her own words:
"I was coming down Washington St., and took the entrance onto 35 W and the bridge, I went three-fourths of the way across, when things started to ripple�like a domino effect." (Photo: FOXNews.com)
"It was rather scary, I felt like we had an earthquake! I looked in my mirror and saw [the pavement] split�the road went straight up in the air about 30 feet. A person in a car at the top started to fall backwards, and then my car began going down. I said, 'Wow, there's a big hole here and I don't know where I'm going to go.' Then I yelled, 'Jesus!'"
"The next thing I knew, there was a big loud 'thump' and my air-bag hit me in the face. I looked around and I was at the bottom, 60 feet lower. I was wondering what happened, and realized that I was still alive. I looked out my window and there was a truck next to me with a car underneath it, and a car on the other side of the pavement sitting up about 60 feet."
"I got out and wondered what I should do next. I wasn't bleeding or anything; I just had a backache and a headache. The first response was really fast, a fireman came down, he told me, 'If you're ok, you can just leave.' So I went down a service road, and a couple college kids were there, one girl took my hand and walked with me [and a construction worker who had fallen in his pickup] up to University Ave."
Louis went to the hospital and had numerous CT scans, but the only thing the doctors could find was a compressed fracture on her 8 and 9 vertebrae.
"All I can say is 'praise God' because He spared me�to walk away from that...," says Louis. "I can't even believe it happened, but I actually walked away."
"It happened very quickly, and the Lord just gave me perfect peace. I had peace, and then when I said 'Jesus,' I felt like He took over and took care of me," she added.
There were four people in vehicles in that particular area of the collapse, and Louis and the truck driver walked away.
As far as the experience being a terrifying one, Louis says, "Well, I just think with the Lord it wasn't. I just had peace through the whole thing. And [later] my daughter-in-law told me her friend was driving through there the day before, and [felt compelled] to pray for that area. She was just impressed to be praying over that place. And then my friend from Ohio told me, in the last few weeks she'd been praying for me a lot. I thought, 'Wow, praise God for all the prayers.'"
Death is Sure
"I read several names of the individuals who are currently lost and/or dead from the bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I then reminded the people listening that life is much shorter than we like to believe. I stressed that we will all die and when we do we must all face a just and holy God to give an account of our sin"
*referred by Kristen V. (Superior, WI) from facebook (Aug 6th 2007) wall
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