It hit me yesterday that the last time I drove over the I-5 Skagit River bridge really WAS the last time I drove over the I-5 Skagit River bridge. I’ve crossed that bridge twice a day since September – commuting to and from work – and never really gave much thought to it when I was passing over it. The bridge was just a part of my day, with no special significance to me – something I took for granted.
I was in Bellingham when I got the phone call from my husband – wondering where I was and if I was alright – telling me the I-5 bridge had collapsed into the river. At first I couldn’t really take in what he was telling me. “Wha…t?” It was too big. Too crazy. Too unthinkable. I remembered crossing over the bridge just a couple hours before and it had been jam-packed with commuter traffic then. How many cars, I wondered, had ended up in the river. And how many people…
When I got home the TV was turned to the news – and there it was – my commuting bridge – its wings all broken and askew – two battered-looking cars resting on its remains. And on top of one of the cars sat a young man, calmly gazing off into the water, waiting for rescue. I wondered about him – who he was, where he’d been going, how he’d managed to get himself out of his car, how he’d managed to survive that fall into the river.
Later a good friend called to tell me she knew that young man – he was one of her former students at the local high school – and he was “an exceptional young man.”
I watched the barge carrying the crane to the I-5 bridge move under the Mount Vernon bridge last night. From where I stood, it looked like a pretty tight fit – the fellow standing on the top part of the barge had to hold down the two poles that were sticking out the back of it, so that they didn’t scrape the bridge. It would have really been a bummer to lose the Mount Vernon bridge, too. But these men were professionals – they all knew what they were doing – and I’m happy to say we still have our Mount Vernon bridge across the Skagit. 🙂
Tonight I had the opportunity to meet Bryce Kenning in the person. My friend was right about him. He IS an exceptional young man. 🙂
(For more on Bryce’s story, go to http://www.goskagit.com/all_access/bridge-collapse-survivor-tells-his-story/article_1b029f0d-4b0c-542c-81ea-8fee830e3b9c.html .)