UPS driver describes Minneapolis bridge collapse

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By Sarah Thomson

The late afternoon of Wednesday, Aug. 1, was like any other workday rush hour for commuters on the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis. Traffic inched through the 45 mph construction zone as frazzled parents drove children from school, office workers traveled home, and UPS driver Bill Wagner headed south, hauling an 8-foot pup behind his rig.

“At that time I was on the bridge, I kept thinking, I hope this damn thing doesn’t fall because I don’t want to be in that water,” recalled Wagner, 46, of Cottage Grove, Minn.

In the traffic, Wagner spotted Paul Eickstadt, an old driving buddy from his days at the Taystee bakery. Wagner caught up to the Taystee truck and waved as they both traveled through the construction zone. A school bus full of children happened to be in front of Wagner’s truck, and Wagner honked his horn, to their delight. The Taystee truck was ahead of Wagner’s, and his friend was laughing at Wagner’s antics.

Then the bridge crumbled.

“Everything got blurry ’cause I was shaking so bad,” Wagner said.

There was no time to think. His truck swayed from left to right. Then Wagner saw air as his truck tumbled down the concrete.

“I saw the treetops through the window, and I thought I was gonna die.