MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One decade later, Minnesota is taking some time to remember the day the 35W Bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed.
In the first hours after the collapse, officials were speculating that more than 100 people were dead given the amount of traffic on the bridge at that time of day. In the end 13 people lost their lives, but hundreds more were injured.
One of the first reporters on the scene was Jason DeRusha, who phoned the breaking news back to WCCO viewers as the first pictures were coming in.
On Tuesday, Jason DeRusha hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, where users asked him anything about the collapse and its aftermath.
Here are highlights from the AMA:
Are there any scenes or people that still stick out in your mind? Is there anything particularly notable that you remember?
I saw the video on the twitter feed you just linked where you seem to struggle to keep your composure after being overwhelmed with emotion describing the series of events. It’s one of these times that we are reminded that people in the news industry are human as well and we all have limits on how much we can take before we have to pause and gather ourselves. How hard were those days for you and your peers at WCCO? Was any other local Minnesota event anywhere near the same level?
“Thank you for the question. To be honest, I’m surprised ten years later that I still get emotional about the collapse. The Star Tribune did an excellent story in their Sunday edition and I found myself struggling to contain my composure reading it. I covered the school shootings in Red Lake and in Cold Spring (ROCORI) and those were tough, tough stories. But nothing compares to the bridge collapse. Today if I covered a story like this, or saw a coworker covering a story, for sure there’s more awareness about getting professional help. Therapy for first responder trauma, if you will. I should have had help at the time, I was just working through it by working. Not the best approach, I’d say.”
Were there any warning signs, or the bridge collapse suddenly?
How has covering this event changed you personally or perhaps your perspective of your job as a reporter in the 10 years since it happened?
I lived within sight of that bridge for several years in college and drove over it countless times, so when I saw the collapse it gave me chills despite the fact that I hadn’t lived there in 15 years. The one thing I’ve wondered about over the years is how on Earth did only 13 people die? It was during rush hour, the bridge was full of cars, yet only 13 fatalities?
Read more of DeRusha’s answers here.