Survivor of I-5 bridge collapse: 'Here I stand, thank God'

Credit: KING5.com

Survivor of I-5 bridge collapse: 'Here I stand, thank God'

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by KING 5 News

kgw.com

Posted on May 24, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Updated Friday, May 24 at 12:56 PM

Dan Sligh and his wife were in their pickup on Interstate 5 heading to a camping trip when a bridge before them disappeared in a "big puff of dust."

"I assumed that was it at that point," Sligh said. "There was no hope, that was what I was thinking. But here I stand, thank God."

Sligh, his wife and another man in a different vehicle were dumped into the chilly waters of the Skagit River.

Sligh and his wife were taken to Skagit Valley Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The other man was reported in stable condition at United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, hospital CEO Greg Reed said.

Sligh said his shoulder was dislocated in the drop into the water, and he found himself "belly deep in water in the truck." He said he popped his shoulder back in and called out to his wife, who he described as being in shock initially as they waited for rescuers to arrive in boats.

Sligh was thankful.

His wife was "doing OK" and he had "lots of cuts," he said. "You're kind of pinching yourself and realize you're lucky to be alive."

Jeremiah Thomas, a volunteer firefighter, said he was driving nearby when he glimpsed something out of the corner of his eye and turned to look.

"The bridge just went down, it crashed through the water," he said. "It was really surreal."

Deyerin said the water depth was about 15 feet, and the vehicles half-visible in the water likely were resting on portions of the collapsed bridge.

Crowds of people lined the river to watch the scene unfold.

"It's not something you see every day," said Jimmy O'Connor, the owner of two local pizza restaurants who was driving on another bridge parallel to the one that collapsed. "People were starting to crawl out of their cars."

He said he and his girlfriend were about 400 yards away on the Burlington Bridge when they heard "just a loud bang."

"Then we looked over and saw the bridge was down in the water," he said.

He pulled over and saw three vehicles in the water, including the camping trailer that landed upside-down, he said.

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