Just 24 at the time, Lindsay Petterson's life was changed forever on Aug. 1, 2007, when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed underneath her, sending her car crashing into the Mississippi River below.
She suffered a fractured back.
A year after the collapse, she told the Star Tribune about her recovery process. Her spine had been "squashed like a marshmallow," she said, and Petterson wore a back brace for five months:
"I look back at this year, and I don't feel like I've been living my life," she said. "I think about the bridge every day. It's starting to become almost a nuisance. God, people have to be getting sick of me. This is all I can seem to come up with to talk about?"
In 2009, Petterson told Minnesota Public Radio that she had healed a lot, but still thought about the collapse often:
"I just can't pretend it will go away," she said. "I have to be actively involved in helping myself heal from it. I think that's been a big part of the last two years of my life...it's kind of second full time job for me."
"It's a lot easier for me to identify what's not important," she added. "I'm alive and I'm happy and this is all that matters and so I think it's given me a perspective is a blessing in disguise."
Dave Ostrowski, who was 51 when the bridge collapsed, said flowers were his savior on Aug. 1, 2007.
The St. Louis Park machinist told the Star Tribune that he usually rode a motorcycle. But because he was bringing flowers to his daughter, Tonya, on her birthday, he chose his larger Chrysler that day.
“I’d be dead if I hadn’t gotten those flowers,” he said.
Ostrowski missed six months of work with compression fractures in his back. During this time, he met regularly with other survivors. And on the one year anniversary of the collapse, Ostrowski was greeted by daughter Tonya—who had an armful of flowers—for a service at the Basilica.
“People are dealing with it in different ways,” he said. “Some are a little more happy-go-lucky than others accepting the fact that it happened and they’re going on with their lives,” he said.
In all, 13 people died in the I-35W bridge collapse and 145 were injured.
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