MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Two teenage brothers from Rochester survived a harrowing fall off a bridge in southeastern Minnesota.
Fourteen-year-old Zachary DeVries and his older brother, 15-year-old Brandon DeVries, said they accidentally fell off the U.S. 14 bridge into the Zumbro River on Tuesday night, when they were walking to the HyVee grocery store to rent a movie. The brothers followed a bike path and then decided to take what seemed like a shortcut crossing U.S. 14, instead of crossing the road at a stoplight.
“We didn’t even know we were on a bridge, I thought it was just a road,” Zachary DeVries said . “We jumped over the first one (median), and then we fell.”
One after the other, the brothers fell in the gap between the bridge lanes, an estimated 40 feet into shallow, rocky waters. The impact of landing knocked the boys unconscious.
“I woke up while we were down there. I couldn’t see much, I saw Brandon, he was laying in the water coughing. So I got really scared,” said Zachary, who grabbed Brandon’s collar and dragged him to shore.
Zachary screamed for help, and then realized no one could hear them. He said he doesn’t remember running for help, but he ended up finding a fire truck in a grocery parking lot.
Both boys were rushed to St. Mary’s Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Zachary has now been discharged with a broken arm, a fractured hip and a fractured nose, while his brother struggles with more serious injuries. Brandon was put on a ventilator, and doctors told the family that he has bruising and swelling in his brain, along with a fractured eye socket.
“I am glad my brother is still here,” Zachary said. “I don’t know what I would do without him.”
Doctors told Brandon he will fully recover, and Zachary vows to stay at his brother’s side until he is released from hospital, which will likely be next week.
Zachary said he and his brother learned a really important lesson: Look before you jump.
Parents Lisa and Brian DeVries call their sons’ survival nothing short of a miracle, a blessing they will celebrate this Christmas.
“This is probably the two greatest gifts we have received ever in our life – having our boys home,” Lisa DeVries said.