An evening wait with a tragic end

  • Article by: MARIA ELENA BACA, PAM LOUWAGIE and BILL MCAULIFFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 2, 2007 - 11:52 PM

As many across the Twin Cities watched coverage of the collapse, some waited for their loved ones to arrive. These four never did.

Artemio Trinidad-Mena
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A picture of Artemio Trinidad-Mena was set up on a makeshift shrine for at the building where he worked on Lake Street. He is survived by his wife, a 2-month-old child in Minneapolis and three children in Mexico.

Photo: Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

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Four people who died in Wednesday's bridge collapse have been identified: Julia Blackhawk, 32, of Savage; Sherry Lou Engebretsen, 60, of Shoreview; Patrick Holmes, 36, of Mounds View, and Artemio Trinidad-Mena, 29, of Minneapolis.

Sherry Engebretsen

During several anxious hours waiting for news about their missing wife and mother, Ron and Jessica Engebretsen shared their story with reporters from all over the world. Their words echoed on CNN, ABC, CBC, NPR and elsewhere.

Midafternoon Thursday, the family learned that Sherry was among the dead. An autopsy was underway late Thursday.

She was supposed to arrive at her Shoreview home from her job at Thrivent Financial shortly after 6 p.m. They had planned a family dinner to see off another daughter, Anne, 20, who was about to leave for dance camp.

Ron Engebretsen last talked with his wife of 32 years at 4:30 p.m. It had been a long day of meetings, he recalled her saying; she was tired. "I said, 'We'll talk more about it later,' " he said.

Jessica, 18, spoke with her mom at 5:39 p.m. About 30 minutes later, she heard her sister crying as she and her dad watched the news.

"We tried calling her," Jessica said. "We called and called and called and called. She didn't pick up."

As the evening passed, the realization began to sink in that she must have been on the bridge. Family members arrived as they called hospitals looking for her.

"We all are holding onto our faith," Ron Engebretsen said. "We are hanging onto our family."

Artemio Trinidad-Mena

Trinidad-Mena, a driver for a grocery store on E. Lake Street, lived only blocks away from work. But before he drove home Wednesday, he had to run an errand in another part of town. That detour proved fatal for Trinidad-Mena, a father of four.

Trinidad-Mena had been in the United States for three years. He and his wife, Abundia Martinez, 31, had a 2-month-old daughter; three other children are in Santa Lucia, Guerrero, Mexico, according to his cousin, Filadelfo Diaz.

"He was a chatterbox. He loved to smile and laugh," Diaz said through a translator. "When he wasn't working, he was dedicated to his family."

At New York Plaza Produce, where Trinidad-Mena worked, co-workers set up a small shrine with photos, candles and a Mexican flag, and a box for donations.

Diaz said Trinidad-Mena, who died of what the Hennepin County medical examiner called "blunt-force injuries and probable drowning," was identified by a business card in his wallet.

Said his wife on Thursday: "I feel so alone."

Patrick Holmes

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

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.

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  • Sherry Engebretsen

  • Abundia Martinez' husband was killed in the bridge collapse.

  • Patrick Holmes

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