Nightmare in Minneapolis (not about dogs)
  • MommyofNikoMommyofNiko
    Posts: 2719

     Its been a rough night.  Minneapolis is home for my husband and I and we have not been able to contact all of our friends and family yet.  So far it seems that all of our loved ones are well but it is heart breaking to see all of the news.  It happened minutes from my childhood home and is on one of the major connectors.  The death toll seems as though it will continue to rise.

    I-35W bridge collapse: 9 dead, 60 injured, 20 missing

    Star Tribune

    Last update: August 02, 2007 – 1:04 AM

    An ordinary evening rush hour turned horrific Wednesday when the Interstate 35W bridge that spans the Mississippi River in Minneapolis suddenly collapsed. Dozens of vehicles plunged to the water and roadways below, leaving scores of dazed commuters scrambling for their lives.

    Nine people were confirmed dead, 60 were taken to hospitals and 20 people were still missing late Wednesday night. Authorities said they expected the death toll to rise.

    Between 50 and 60 vehicles were on the bridge when it went down shortly after 6 p.m., authorities said. Legions of rescue workers and volunteers swarmed to the scene and spent hours sifting through the wreckage in a frantic search for survivors.

    "This is a catastrophe of historic proportions for Minnesota," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said.

    By late in the evening, officials said efforts at the Mississippi had switched from rescue to recovery.

    Jay Danz, 45, of St. Paul, was on his way to the Metrodome to watch the Twins play Kansas City and had driven under W. River Parkway, beneath the interstate bridge, seconds before it fell.

    "I heard it creaking and making all sorts of noises it shouldn't make," Danz said. "And then the bridge just started to fall apart."

    In addition to the cars that went into the water, a school bus carrying about 60 Minneapolis children fell from the bridge, landing on all four of its tires and missing the water as it came to rest near the parkway.

    Several of the children and at least two adults were treated for injuries after the group escaped through the back door of the bus.

    "Some kids had blood on their faces, but thank God everybody could move," Danz said.

    The cause of the collapse wasn't known in the hours afterward. It's too soon to know what happened, said Catherine E. Wolfgram French, a civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota.

    "Things can happen with temperature, and with construction, or a lot of other confounding factors," French said.

    This was a 40-year-old truss bridge, and French did say that some early truss bridges don't have as many structural redundancies -- backups to carry the loads -- as is now considered desirable.

    Another engineer, Michael Ramerth, a principal at MBJ Consulting Structural Engineers in Minneapolis, said in the search for answers "I would start at the foundations."

    On a typical weekday, more than 100,000 cars use the bridge.

    Berndt Toivonen, 51, of Minneapolis, was on his way home from a painting job when the bridge collapsed beneath his car.

    "The bridge started to buckle," Toivonen said. "It went up and came down. I thought I was going to die."

    Bumper-to-bumper traffic

    What people in the area of the collapse experienced or saw at about 6:05 p.m. unfolded as motorists crawled bumper to bumper across I-35W toward the end of rush hour.

    Those on the bridge felt buckling and swaying and heard a crunching.

    Then came the unthinkable: The 40-year-old bridge collapsed, dumping vehicles into the water and onto land below. That was followed by scenes of frantic, bloodied motorists and rescuers who converged on the scene.

    Many vehicles, including at least one semitrailer, were on fire. People were reported to be floundering in the river. Rescuers rushed to help people escape cars trapped in the V-shaped hollow where the bridge had caved in.

    The school bus that fell was, returning from a day-camp swimming trip sponsored by a Waite House summer program.

    "We collapsed," said Ryan Watkins, one of the children.

    Crumpled wreckage lay on the east bank of the river, and a huge section of concrete roadway lay on the west bank. Down below in the river gorge, rescue workers scrambled to help people get out of the water.

    Fire and black smoke rose from the wreckage.

    Memorial Blood Centers and the American Red Cross put out immediate calls for blood donors. A center for families of those who are missing was set up at the Holiday Inn Metrodome.

    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff issued a statement Wednesday night saying there was no indication of terrorism.

    Transportation Secretary Mary Peters was scheduled to fly to the Twin Cities early this morning, along with Sens. Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar.

    Workers on the bridge

    About 20 construction workers employed by Progressive Contractors Inc. were about to begin night shift work on the bridge when it collapsed, company officials said.

    The company has been working on a repair project for about six weeks, said Mike McGray, president of the company. Progressive is based in St. Michael, Minn., and is one of the state's major road and bridge repair contractors.

    In 1990 a construction worker fell 90 feet to his death when a concrete arch span on the Lake Street-Marshall Avenue Bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. In 1960 a bridge over the Minnesota River at Hwy. 41 in Chaska collapsed during construction. No one was killed in that incident.

    Construction workers had been repairing the bridge's surface as part of improvements along that stretch of the interstate. There were a large number of construction workers who went into the water, said Maj. Michael Asleson of the Minnesota State Patrol.

    Most of the injured were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center.

    Nine people were taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale and five others arrived by ambulance at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.

    A staging area for the injured was set up near the Stone Arch Bridge.

    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.

    Peter Siddons, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, was heading north over the bridge toward his home to White Bear Lake when he heard "crunching."I saw this rolling of the bridge," he said. "It kept collapsing, down, down, down until it got to me."

    Siddons' car dropped with the bridge, and its nose rolled into the car in front of him and stopped.

    He got out of his car, jumped over the crevice between the highway lanes and crawled up the steeply tilted section of bridge to land, where he jumped to the ground.

    "I thought I was dead," he said. "Honestly, I honestly did. I thought it was over."

    Ramon Houge of St. Paul was on his way home from work and was on the bridge when he heard a rumbling noise and cars in front of him began to go down.

    He said cars that could backed up, turned around and drove toward safety.

    Baseball game added to congestion

    Danz said there were cars behind him on W. River Parkway, but he didn't think any of them were under the bridge when it fell.

    John Joachim of Taylors Falls, Minn., took I-35W to the Twins game and said traffic suddenly "slammed to a stop" as he neared University Avenue.

    "I didn't know what was going on but a huge cloud of dust rose in front of us," he said.

    After the game, traffic were being rerouted away from the collapse, routes that also were being used by theater patrons leaving the Guthrie.

    This afternoon's Twins game has been postponed, along with scheduled groundbreaking ceremonies for the new baseball park that had been scheduled for this evening.

    'Five feet from the edge'

    Louis Rogers, 28, of Roseville was driving home from work listening to music in his Chevy Blazer when the bridge gave way just feet in front of him.

    "It just disappeared; it made no sound whatsoever," he said. "It was pretty much like a thud, not too loud of a thud. The next thing I know, cars were dropping and there was smoke. My car was no more than five feet from the edge."

    Rogers tried to help some of the people in cars that had fallen into the river and stopped on the bridge.

    "I saw a lady in a car and I screamed, but I got no response," he said. "I grabbed my bag and started signaling cars to get out of there."

    Ryan Murphey, 30, of Minneapolis, went to the scene to see if he could help out.

    "It looked like a terrorist attack, a complete catastrophe," Murphey said. "But everyone there was very calm and organized."

    He helped remove two victims from the east side of the bridge on stretchers, including a woman in her late 50s with a "bloody face."

    The Twins decided to play Wednesday night's game, but only after the public address announcer alerted the crowd at 7:08 p.m. of the bridge's collapse. A moment of prayer followed. It was then announced that the game would go on so emergency crews could perform their duties without the added pressure of having 20,000 to 25,000 people scrambling in swarms from the Dome area.

    Area law enforcement, including the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, had launched at least three boats to help with the rescues.

    "Unbelievable," said Audrey Glassman of Minneapolis, who left her work shift at nearby Spoonriver restaurant to survey the scene. "You'll never cross a bridge again without thinking about this."

    Red Cross volunteer Eric Pone guessed 100 people came through the Holiday Inn Metrodome Wednesday. "For some folks they're dealing with a sense of relief because they're loved ones are OK. Others haven't heard anything."

    Staff writers Curt Brown, Tim Campbell, Joe Christensen, Terry Collins, H.J. Cummins, Kevin Duchschere, Tom Ford, Kevin Giles, Pat Lopez, Maura Lerner, Bill McAuliffe, Pamela Miller, Claude Peck, Joy Powell, James Shiffer, Jim Foti and Doug Tice contributed to this story, which was written by Paul Levy.

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  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224

    Yea when I saw the report I thought about you guys - hope all is well.


    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224

    So - is you family and friends safe? Hope everyone is ok!

    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • MommyofNikoMommyofNiko
    Posts: 2719

    From what I have heard everyone is doing well.  Of course stories from friends and family that were near there and heard it or close calls like that.  It was hard because I couldnt get a hold of anyone until the next day.

    Sorry we havent followed up with you guys.  We really want to get together again soon, things are just getting crazier and crazier.  Looking for a new realtor, the trucks transmission is going out, im still a mess... 

    How are you and your crew doing??? 

    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224

    Good to hear everything is ok. I'm sure it was stressful (to say the least), I can't even imagine how you (and all the others) must of felt when you heard / saw / experienced the disaster.

    Sounds like you guys have a lot going on - you know how it goes tho... When it rains it...

    We are all doing fine, just settling with my new job. This heat wave has been hard on the pups, we have not given them as much outdoor time as they need because it just to hot for them. Poor Hilo runs to the gate when we let him in the backyard and wants to come back in - he dreads going outside now.

    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00