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Holmes was heading home to Mounds View after a day of studying neck and back pain as an exercise therapist in Bloomington. As usual, he drove his Saturn sedan across the Interstate 35W bridge shortly after 6 p.m.
When his wife, Jennifer, heard about the bridge's collapse from the golf course, she knew her husband's route would have put him there about that time. So she went home to wait. Pat didn't believe in cell phones, she said.
At 11:30 p.m., when authorities contacted her, she knew it would be bad news.
Holmes, who played amateur baseball in St. Paul for many years, had two children, ages 4 and 6. He coached his son's baseball and soccer teams and loved to fish, camp and wrestle with the kids.
She was learning Thursday, she said, that he was liked "by many, many people."
The Holmeses, married for a dozen years, had been a couple for far longer. High school sweethearts at Hill-Murray in Maplewood, they knew early on that they would spend their lives together, Jennifer said.
Holmes was on the last northbound portion that fell. His car crashed onto the riverbank. He died of what the medical examiner described as "mechanical and positional asphyxia."
Now, Jennifer said, her main concern is the rest of her family. "I'm just worried about my kids," she said.
Julia Blackhawk, of Savage, had two sons, 8 and 9, according to the Associated Press. She was studying at the Aveda Institute, where she met a friend Liz Ewing. "She was a sweet girl, and everybody loved her," Ewing said.
Ewing said she talked to Blackhawk right before she left for home. "We said, 'Bye, have a good day,' " she said through tears.
Maria Elena Baca 612-673-4490; Bill McAuliffe 612-673-7646; Pam Louwagie 612-673-7102
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