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Continued: 911 calls: Horror after bridge fell

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY and MARY JANE SMETANKA , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 24, 2007 - 11:48 PM

'I'm in the middle of the river'

One of the early 911 calls came from Brian Sturgill, 26, who had just flown into Minneapolis from San Diego 90 minutes earlier on a business trip. Hoping to go to the Twins game, he was trying to find a hotel and was driving over the bridge in his rented Chevy Impala, admiring the Cadillac in the lane next to him, when he felt the bridge shake.

The road broke in front of him and the car fell, its back half smacking into the water. Terrified, Sturgill tried to open the driver's door, but it was jammed shut. Part of the windshield was shattered and he tried to kick out the rest of the glass. But with only old flip-flops on his feet, the glass didn't break. The window in the passenger door wouldn't break either.

The car shifted. Sturgill tried the driver's door again, and it opened. He waded into several feet of water and walked up onto a slab of concrete in the middle of the river, stripping off his polo shirt in case he had to swim.

The Cadillac was on a piece of concrete 15 feet across the water. The driver climbed out, covered with blood and oil. Sturgill grabbed a piece of splintered two-by-four and pushed it over to him, telling him to come over.

Sturgill's back ached. His hands were scraped and bleeding.

That's when he called 911. It was just before 6:12 p.m.

Operator: Minneapolis 911.

Sturgill: Yes, I was on the bridge. It just collapsed.

Operator: OK, are you hurt?

Sturgill: Not bad. I'm in the middle of the river though.

Operator: You're in the middle of the river, are you in a car?

Sturgill: Yeah -- no, I'm out of the car.

Operator: Are you floating in the river then?

Sturgill: No, I'm on like a little island part in the middle. There's a lot of people here too. And I think there could be people trapped in cars is what I'm really worried about.

Operator: Yeah, we have help on the way. Have they gotten there yet?

Sturgill: I haven't seen anyone yet.

Operator: OK, because help is on the way. We have firetrucks, the police, the ambulance. I will let them know. How ... many people are on the island with you?

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