August 1st, 2008
09:51 PM ET

When the world crumbles beneath you

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/01/bridgebridge.jpg caption="Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis after it collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007"]

Alyssa Caplan
AC360° Staff

Earlier this week when a 5.4 magnitude earthquake hit Southern California, cameras at a “Judge Judy” taping captured a rare glimpse of the moments during the quake. You can see the panic as a once stable room starts to rock and roll.

Thankfully there were no fatalities or serious injuries – but as I watched the video, it was the first time I could really imagine how unnerving it would be to be in an earthquake. Despite what is going on in the world, there is a certain comfort that can found in standing on solid ground.

With the one year anniversary of the Minneapolis bridge collapse approaching, my thoughts quickly turned to another group of people whose world actually crumbled beneath them. Over the past year, I have thought of them often.

On Aug. 1, 2007, I sat at my desk at CNN’s New York offices and watched terrified, unable to get through to family members or friends in my hometown of Minneapolis as the story unfolded and images of the mangled bridge began to appear on television.

The next day, I was in Minneapolis helping find guests and stories for the show. One of my most memorable moments was with a guest who had been driving the day before when her car plunged off the bridge into the Mississippi. We were standing together at dusk on the roof of a building near the collapse where our live shot was set up. She somehow managed to survive the fall and escape from her submerged vehicle that was pinned under water between concrete slabs and debris.

She bravely agreed to take the crazy freight elevator (hard hat not optional) to the top of the building, which quite frankly, jilted me. Peering down in the distance with her at the wreckage, I simply could not believe she was standing next to me – standing, at times smiling, and making jokes. She talked about being underwater and thinking that she had to get out because she had fun plans for the weekend and this just couldn’t be the end. It is amazing to be reminded what resilient creatures we are; what the human spirit can endure.

Kim Dahl, who was driving a school bus filled of children and Lindsay Petterson were also on the bridge. They are part of an active online community, sharing their thoughts and journey of the last year. Their stories can be found here:


soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Keith Reyes, PhD

    International Racism
    The Russia-Georgia conflict is another eye-opener. America unlawfully invaded Iraq, killed its president and millions of innocent women and children with 500 lbs smart bombs. NATO and the UN essentially remain silent. Russia responded to Georgia’s aggression in South Ossetia; America, NATO and the UN are busy presenting and passing resolutions against Russia. What are non-Caucasian countries left to conclude?
    Keith Reyes, PhD.

    August 22, 2008 at 1:37 pm |
  2. Keith Reyes, PhD


    It is all to obvious that Saakashvili is an embarrassment to even the Bush administration. Georgians are very unfortunate to have such an intemperate character as their leader. He comes over as a psychotic ruffian using street language like babarians, rapist etc; very venomous and unbecoming of a leader. His conduct kills any chance of diplomatic engagement with Russia.
    Keith Reyes, PhD.

    August 15, 2008 at 9:16 pm |
  3. Keith Reyes, PhD

    Russia Georgia Conflict
    There are two things that the Bush Administration needs to do if there is any chance of a diplomatic solution to the Russia Georgia conflict. One, the Bush administration must stop repeating the cliché of a nation’s sovereignty and realize that it has no moral credibility in this assertion. It’s illegal invasion and devastation of Iraq is testimony to this. Two, the Bush Administration should not be associated with the vitriolic insults of Saaskavili hurled against Russia. Calling the Russian leadership, and by extension, its people barbarian is not only undiplomatic but foolish and does not facilitate diplomacy.
    Keith Reyes, PhD.

    August 15, 2008 at 11:56 am |
  4. Keith Reyes, PhD

    No one should wonder how Jerome Corsi’s smear book on Obama got on the New York Times best seller’s list. Two reasons: One, McCain’s campaign or affiliates must have spent a million or so sponsoring the book and then buying it up; two, the New York Times rating is down and they are desperate in squandering their credibility on the discredited Corsi and a book of lies.
    Keith Reyes, PhD.

    August 13, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  5. Willow, Iowa

    I saw the news and thought, "Nobody could have lived through that. they fell too far." but a lot of them did live. Our infrastructure is aging fast. In 1986, a really high bridge in upstate New York fell with a utility crew pickup on it. three guys died. the bridges are getting old, we are barely patching pot holes. We never kept up with maintenance after the 60s when all this was built up. We need to spend a lot of money on maintenance, rebuilding and independence on foreign oil. Pretty big job for the next President. but I think he can handle it.

    Obama 08/12

    August 4, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  6. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    I used to live in Mpls. They are constantly doing road construction in and around the twin cities. The whole thing doesn't seem real. Unfortunately, this is where our country has not put attention..........on our infrastructure. We patch up our roads and bridges instead of build new. This country is in trouble...............

    August 4, 2008 at 11:11 am |
  7. Melinda

    A little moth on my screen came to your paragragh on the 360. Way past my bed time, but I thought I would respond. I am so afraid of small spaces and also to be under water trapped. I can't imagine what these people went through. Not very much coverage,esp lately, but then again, CNN keeps trying to remind us that katrina is not really over. I am so glad that you all keep reminding us of things that need change. I guess that's why I keep watching!! You all are so great~

    August 2, 2008 at 4:43 am |
  8. Heather

    This bridge disaster reminds me of the special I saw either on the history channel called engineering disasters or on nat geo channel called seconds from disaster. The reason why this specific bridge collapsed was that it was designed for vehicles built in the 40's 50's and 60's.So it was just a matter of time over time for this bridge to go.

    August 1, 2008 at 10:01 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    I'm very thankful there were survivors – when I saw the first images of the collapse I was afraid everyone would have died. Humans are resilient and do bounce back after terrible events but I wonder how many new cases of PTSD resulted from that bridge collapse....

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 1, 2008 at 9:59 pm |

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