Bridge victims remembered at Stone Arch ceremony

  • Updated: August 1, 2008 - 6:15 PM
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Bridge survivors Kim Dahl and Mercedes Gorden embrace after the remembrance service at the Basilica of Saint Mary. Junior high school friends, they were on opposite ends of the bridge when it collapsed.

Photo: Joey Mcleister, Dml - Star Tribune Star Tribune

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A one-year-later remembrance for the I-35W bridge victims is being held late this afternoon in Minneapolis' Gold Medal Park, where people gravitated after the disaster to catch a glimpse of the destruction and leave flowers and homemade signs honoring the victims.

Ceremonies there opened to the sounds of simple instruments, including a conch shell, a flute and a gong.

Cathy DeCheine will strum her guitar and sing the song she wrote a few weeks after the collapse: "Ordinary Workday."

"People were on their way home," it goes. "Seemed nothing could ruin this fine summer day."

About 5:30 p.m., police, firefighters and other law enforcers who responded to the bridge collapse were to lead a procession from the park about six blocks to the Stone Arch Bridge. That's just upriver from the freeway, where construction on the new bridge will halt from mid-afternoon to mid-evening.

Thirteen names will be read: Patrick Holmes, Artemio Trinidad-Mena, Paul Eickstadt, Sherry Engebretsen, Julia Blackhawk, Peter Hausmann, Sadiya Sahal, Hana Sahal, Richard Chit, Vera Peck, Christine Sacorafas, Scott Sathers and Greg Jolstad.

At 6:05 p.m., a moment of silence was planned, with an American flag unfurling on the new bridge and bells sounding.

The memorials are the first major public observance of the bridge collapse since last August, when residents across Minneapolis marked a moment of silence six days after the span fell.

"It's going to be a celebration of life, but I also think it's going to be a remembrance of what people went through," said DeCheine, an oncology nurse who like many others across Minnesota was glued to the television the night of the collapse. "I think we're going to get an opportunity to feel some of that."

Earlier in the day, an interfaith prayer and memorial service at the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis brought together victims of the I-35W bridge collapse one year ago today along with dignitaries among the hundreds who streamed into the sanctuary.

"A lot of us are dealing with this in different ways," said victim and survivor David Ostrowski, 52, of St. Louis Park, who suffered compound fractures to his back in the collapse. "Sometimes I'm happy go lucky, sometimes I'm a little bit more touchy. But things like this help."

Ostrowski said he would've been riding his motorcycle a year ago over the bridge but took his car instead so he could pick up flowers for his daughter's birthday.

Today, his daughter, 24-year-old Tonya Ostrowski, gave her father a bouquet for him to have at the basilica.

Renee Rudolph, 68, of Plymouth, among the 400 or so attending the service, said, "We didn't know anyone on the bridge, but as we walked under the [freeway overpass near the basilica], I said to my husband, 'How could something like this happen?' "

Speakers at the service included Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.

"Our thoughts go out to those who perished one year ago," Pawlenty said. "We remember and celebrate their lives, and we are once again reminded that life is fragile."

Said Rybak: "Our faith has become the bond that weaves us together, but it would be a mistake to say it's over. The challenge now is to sustain our compassion. If we learned anything from one year ago, it's that none of us are alone in the beloved community of Minnesota."

Also attending the service were Minnesota's two U.S. senators: Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken, Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau.

Molnau also was the state's transportation commissioner when the bridge collapsed.

Also today, a mural with a bridge theme created by the 52 children who were on the school bus that went down with the bridge is being unveiled on the front of the Intermedia Arts building in south Minneapolis.

The mural, titled "Building Bridges, Not Fences," will remain on the Lyndale Avenue building for a year.

Star Tribune staff writer Curt Borwn, Tim Harlow and Paul Walsh and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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