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Saturday, May 25, 2013

In Video, Survivor Describes Bridge Collapse North of Seattle

Last Updated, 4:12 p.m. Dan Sligh and his wife were on their way to a camping trip for Memorial Day weekend on Interstate 5, north of Seattle, when they saw a truck that was carrying an oversized load strike the side of the bridge they were driving on.

The next thing they knew, they were plunging into the Skagit River's icy waters. “Things happened so fast, it was like a Hollywood movie unfolding in front of you, live, up close and personal,” Mr. Sligh, 47, told a reporter for KING-TV, Channel 5, in Seattle.

As my colleague, Kirk Johnson reported, Mr. Sligh, his wife and another person traveling on Interstate 5 on the bridge near Mount Vernon, Wash., were rescued and did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

“I felt the water rushing in to midbelly,” Mr. Sligh said. “I put the truck in park - emergency break. I kept asking my wife if she is O.K. I noticed that my shoulder was pretty well dislocated. I couldn't reach to get my seat belt off. I crawled underneath the collapsed overhead of the truck. She was out cold.”

He managed to pull his wife over to the driver's side and hold her head above water as he stood on the outside rail of his truck until help arrived.

Peter Mongillo, a photographer for KOMO-TV News, was at the scene and shared this photo on Twitter.

It could take weeks for the bridge spanning Washington State's major north-south artery to be repaired, according to The Seattle Times.

A bridge on Interstate 5 north of Seattle after the bridge collapsed Thursday night, sending two vehicles into the water.The New York Times A bridge on Interstate 5 north of Seattle after the bridge collapsed Thursday night, sending two vehicles into the water.

As Mr. Johnson reported, the “ripple effects of the collapse could be huge â€" for commuters, freight haulers, neighborhoods around the bridge on detour routes and politicians in Olympia, Washington's capital, who have been loudly and publicly wrestling over the hundreds of millions of dollars in state money needed to replace another aging bridge over the Columbia River that separates Oregon and Washington further south on the Interstate 5 corridor.”

The bridge collapse raised new questions about the state of the nation's infrastructure. On Washington State's list of structurally deficient bridges, it was deemed “functionally obsolete.”

At a news conference, Gov. Jay Inslee and other officials discussed the bridge collapse and what steps needed to be taken before the bridge is repaired.

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Gov. Jay Inslee and state transportation officials discuss the bridge collapse on Interstate 5.