Reporting Aristea Brady
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s the fifth anniversary of the collapse that sent the I-35W bridge into the Mississippi River.
The failure of the bridge led to the images of destruction that are still hard to comprehend. Thirteen people died and 150 more were hurt in the tragedy, including an 8-months-pregnant woman, Tina Hickman.
Doctors at Hennepin County Medical Center performed an emergency C-section to save her baby’s life.
Born a month early, Jackson Hickman still weighed 6 and-a-half pounds. And that’s the outcome of a spectacular coincidence: Tina Hickman was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during her pregnancy, which causes babies to grow quickly.
Even so, the doctors had to work fast.
“Jackson’s heartbeat was either average or a little bit low, and they checked it again…and it was almost not there; and so Dr. Thomas said we need to take this baby right now,” Hickman said.
When the bridge collapsed, Hickman suffered severe brain trauma. She said she doesn’t remember anything from the month following the collapse.
Jackson’s father, Ben, didn’t make it to the hospital until nearly four hours after Jackson was born.
“I kind of looked down and, you know, saw that the baby was not there, and the medical staff, they had pictures of Jackson on the wall,” Ben Hickman said.
Five years after the collapse, Tina Hickman says she’s now more sure than ever that her son is in no small part the work of a miracle.
“It wasn’t our time, and I truly believe there’s some real strong purpose for Jackson in his life,” she said. “We get the chance to raise him and watch and see what happens.”
The Hickmans have yet to explain to Jackson why his birthday gets a little more attention than his friends’ each year. Tina Hickman says she plans to tell Jackson when he’s a bit older.
Tina says several others close to the tragedy tell her that when they see how well Jackson’s doing, it gives them strength.
“No matter what…the most important thing about Aug.1 for us, and for him, is that it’s his birthday,” Tina Hickman said.