In every disaster there are always an endless number of stories to tell. Those who survived the collapse of the Interstate 35 W bridge in Minneapolis on Wednesday are now contributors to the hundreds of stories that will be related to the media, the public, and to loved ones for years to come. Some of them can also be called heroes. Others just call themselves lucky.

One such survivor, Marcelo Cruz, has stared death in the face before. Seven years ago, Cruz, a native of Mexico, was shot in North Carolina. His body was covered with a tarp after police suspected him to be dead. He survived, though, and is now paralyzed from the waist down. Now 26, he was driving around the city in a special van that he can operate. When he drove onto the I-35 W bridge just after 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, he tried to stop, but the bridge began to slope, and he was unable to stop. He swerved and hit into the concrete guardrail, stopping 15 feet from the end of the bridge before it dropped into the Mississippi River. Until he was rescued, he called his mother, Ignacia Cruz to tell her that he was okay.

Meanwhile, a bus filled with children on a summer field trip was crossing the bridge as well. The 52 children and 9 adults were on their way back from a swimming trip when the bridge collapsed from under them. Everyone in the bus survived. Eight of the children, ages 5 to 14, were hospitalized, and two adult members were also hospitalized. A staff member, Jeremy Hernandez, busted open the back door of the bus and told everyone to jump out. A truck driver, Gary Babineau, was in front of the bus during the collapse. Though in shock, he ran to help the kids out of the bus and onto the sidewalk.

At the same time, Dennis and Jamie Winegar along with their nephew fell 50 feet in their car when the bridge collapsed. Their nephew thought the collapse was the result of an earthquake. They were able to escape from the car and try to help others off the bridge. Another woman, Catherine Yankelevich, plunged into the Mississippi River. Luckily, she remained conscious and calm and was able to swim out of the driver’s side window and swim to shore without injury.

Jacob Reynolds was driving back into town from a wedding and was approaching the freeway when he heard that the bridge had collapsed. Being a certified disaster relief aid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the news of the disaster prompted him to stop to see if he could help. When he got there, emergency crews were already there, fighting the fires. There was nothing for him to do so he began to photograph the scene. He realized that the camera could not convey what he was seeing in front of him. Like all of the other survivors and victims of the collapse, you had to be there to see it.

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