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Melissa Hughesheld her 1-yearold daughter, Olivia, near the scene of the 35w bridge collapse; Melissa was driving the red car in the background of photo.

Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

I-35W bridge survivors: After the fall, healing and rebirth

  • Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE
  • Star Tribune
  • July 30, 2012 - 2:50 PM

Students who rode the yellow school bus down with the Interstate 35W bridge when it fell into the Mississippi River five years ago are in college now.

A youth worker who escaped her sunken car uses her trauma from that day to help the kids she counsels.

A family that lost a father to the river is determined to continue his good deeds.

In the years since the bridge collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145 others, survivors of the rush-hour disaster have struggled to rebound. Some still battle physical limitations. Others, emotional demons.

The crumpled bridge became a national symbol of crumbling infrastructure. For Minnesotans it was also a searing reminder of life's frailty. So many had traveled the bridge or knew someone who had crossed it in the days, hours and minutes before it failed.

"Everybody remembers where they were when the bridge fell," collapse survivor Garrett Ebling said. "Everybody has a connection."

A sleek new structure quickly replaced the fallen one. But some survivors still have not crossed it. For them, the road to recovery has been slower, or still not complete. Yet many others have rebuilt their lives, and at times in surprising ways.

 

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