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Continued: 4 dead, 79 injured, 20 missing after dozens of vehicles plummet into river

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 2, 2007 - 8:24 AM

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.

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  • Looking north at construction of the Interstate Hwy 35W bridge, July 1967.

  • A rescue worker enters a car in the water to search for a victim after the collapse.

  • Melissa Hughes clinched a child near the scene of the I-35W bridge collapse; Melissa was driving the red car in the background of photo.

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  • The wreckage on the west end of the bridge.

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