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Cyclists Among Those to Aid in 35W Collapse

Aug 2nd, 2007 | By | Category: Podcasts

By now we’ve all heard about the tragedy that occurred yesterday in Minneapolis, MN, when the 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed without warning, killing a number of motorists and injuring many others.

Many people came to the rescue of those in need on the bridge including, according to FredCast listener Jon, fellow cyclists. Jon reports that there are several well-traveled bike lanes under the bridge, but there are no reports as to injuries to cyclists.

Take a look at the following photos of an unknown cyclist helping fellow Minnesotans in a time of need:

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  1. This cyclist was absolutely one of the first on the scene. She/He rescued that woman from the red car in the front of the second photo. She was not in good shape and had to stop and be helped to continue many times. You can’t see it from that angle but that car was incredibly close to going over, even though it looks like it is pinned by that beam. She/He had to climb over the hump in the road seen in the first photo to get to this woman. Evidently the wreck of the bridge was creaking and groaning and could have collapsed even further. This person is a hero, I hope I can find out who she/he is so I buy her/him a few beers!

  2. So this was taken from the Star Tribune website. The cyclist’s name was Dan Scheuller.

    “I can safely say that last night�s bike commute home from work was a disaster. I took my usual route from downtown St. Paul to Brooklyn Center which takes me all the way up the West River Road from Fort Snelling. I was under the 10th street bridge climbing the hill on the bike path when I heard a crunching noise. I had my headphones on so this wasn�t too loud. Then I looked up and saw a cloud of white dust. It looked like a mist of water and I thought the St. Anthony dam just broke. Then I tasted cement and saw the path just ahead of me covered in rubble. So I thought part of the bridge must have broke (because I couldn�t see the whole bridge through the dust) and my first thought was �boy I�m glad I wasn�t 20 seconds faster today�.

    I turned off my headphones and it was silent except for an eerie sound (that reminded me of a horror movie) of many people moaning and crying. I leaned my bike against a tree, walked closer and saw all the cars and damage. Because of the groaning and moaning I knew I had to climb up onto the roadbed to see if I could help anyone. I�m pretty sure I was one of the first people on the scene and I didn�t really worry about the road breaking further; I had a helmet on which I wasn�t about to take off.

    So I first went to where a black car was bridged across the crack with another car on top of it that had three people in it. I told them they needed to get out and the woman passenger said she thought they were on top of another car and that she was too scared to get out and just wanted to hold my hand. I told her that they were on the car but that it was wedged in pretty good and didn�t look like it would budge if they tried to get out. After holding her hand for a short time I left downslope to one of the other cars with people still in them. These cars were parked on a pretty steep slope that made it quite slippery (at least I was wearing my mountain bike shoes and not my road bike shoes).

    Most of the people in these cars were speechless and in shock (none were hysterical) so I just calmly told them there was a route off the bridge because I just came on that way, and that I�d walk with them over there. This seemed to help convince them to get out of their cars, so I did this with four or five people. One woman was on her cell and she said something to the effect of �I�m telling you it collapsed and I�m still stuck on it.� Another woman had high heels on and she was slipping badly until I held on to her waist while she took them off. There was a steep piece of cement they had to climb down to get onto the bank so I suggested they do a crabwalk down it, and that seemed to work but some had more difficulty than others. The scariest thing then happened when I put my foot on a large broken piece of cement while helping a large woman into her crablike stance. The cement piece broke loose and slid down towards another woman who was almost to the bank. My heart about stopped watching it slide towards her but luckily it missed by about three feet.

    While helping the last few people, a large pickup truck broke loose and slid down the upper bank of cement and exploded when it went into the crack. The black smoke made it more difficult but luckily there was only one last person on that section of road, a man with an injured hand who I think was in the red car at the very bottom. He walked off just as the first rescue help arrived. A rescue worker yelled that everyone should get off the bridge and I thought �hey, good idea.� I told him that this man with the hurt hand was the last one off this section and I then retreated into the crowd now forming along the River Road. I noticed that it was about 6:25 so I figure it took about 15 minutes to help get those eight to ten people off that section.

    Dan Schueller”

  3. That is me in the pictures. It sure does feel good to be alive after realizing how close (about 15 to 20 seconds) I was to becoming a pancake.

    After that initial climb onto the bridge, my mind was a bit in overload when I became uncertain about which of the many cars to approach first. The oddest thing was that when I first got on that section, I saw the red car way at the bottom and I thought “well I’ll go to these other cars but I’m not going down there”. Then later when the last man crawled up the slope from down near that car I thought he must have come from the red car (as noted in my Strib write-up). I left that night with the memory that I never went down to that red car. Then the next day when I saw the picture of me helping a girl by that car, the memory immediately came back that when I saw that girl struggling by that car, I went down that steep slope to help her without pausing or even thinking. So for some strange reason, I blocked out that memory (maybe because of the danger involved) which probably would never have come back without that picture. Twice before in my life I blocked out memories from tragic events and I wonder how common this is with others. Thanks Noah Kunin for taking those photos.

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