Students hold vigil for I-35W victims

A group of about 35 students lit candles and shared a moment of silence before reflecting on the tragedy.

Danielle Nordine

With candles lit, students gathered in front of Coffman Union to remember the victims of the Interstate 35W bridge collapse.

As part of homecoming week, the Student Unions and Activities office held a candlelight vigil Thursday night in memory of those who died and were affected by the bridge’s collapse in August.

Ed Kim, Student Unions and Activities coordinator, said the bridge collapse hit close to home for many people.

“Since the collapse was so close to the University, many students were affected by it,” Kim said.

A group of about 30 students started the ceremony in front of Coffman Union, and walked with candles lit to the Washington Avenue Bridge. Students participated in a moment of silence for commemoration of the victims.

Students had many reasons for attending the vigil, but a common theme was unity.

University junior Brad Wellman said he came to show his support.

“It’s important as a campus to show the families that were involved that we care,” Wellman said.

Other students described their experiences.

First-year student Brooke Opitz said she was on her way to the Twins game when she found out about the collapse.

“All of a sudden all of our parents called us frantically, we didn’t know what was going on,” Opitz said. “It was so close to home.”

Many other students like Opitz experienced the collapse firsthand.

Junior Amanda Belz said she was in her apartment when the bridge collapsed and “the sirens just didn’t stop.”

“It was pretty shocking,” Belz said.

Work on the new bridge began today, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Web site.

Students were impressed with the progress of the bridge.

“It’s amazing how much progress they’ve made, especially considering how recently it happened,” first-year student Joelle Linhoff said.

Thursday’s vigil was held exactly three months after the bridge collapsed.

“Knowing that, this is a pretty significant event,” Wellman said. “It’s good to be a part of this.”