Garrett Ebling usually never crossed the 35W bridge in downtown Minneapolis. He lived and worked in the southwest suburbs, so there was no need, except on August 1, 2007. His company picnic was held at Como Park in St Paul, and afterwards they all went to a restaurant in Roseville. He planned to go south on Snelling, then take Highway 94 to 394, back home. But he missed the turn for Snelling. Ending up on 35W, he decided that would work fine. Rush hour traffic was terrible and he thought he would take the first exit south of the bridge and cut through downtown Minneapolis to get to 394, to bypass some of the traffic. But he never got across the bridge that day.
Curtis and I live in northeast Minneapolis, just a couple miles from the 35W bridge. We drive over it all the time, but not that day. The first I heard of the collapse was when my mom called immediately to see if we were OK, and I said, "Why?" Everyone in the Twin Cities was calling everyone, to see if they'd been "on the bridge." I stood in our backyard that evening, listening to the rescue helicopters in the distance. It was an eery, surreal feeling. The next morning I was compelled to go see it with my own eyes. Police kept people back quite a way. I stood on the University Avenue overpass over 35W, and though I saw the devastation with my own eyes, I still couldn't quite believe it. As the days went by and bodies were recovered, and stories of survivors came out, I read everything I could find.