Evening jogger turns rescuer

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third article in a series that includes the stories of people who experienced the bridge collapse firsthand. For more stories from those who were there, check out Friday’s issue.

by Marni Ginther

>Tim Mueller, accounting and finance alum

Even bystanders without medical experience were able to lend a hand to the disaster scene.

Tim Mueller was going for a run near West River Parkway when the Interstate 35W bridge came down.

Mueller, who had been listening to music on his iPod while running on the path he’d taken all summer, said he heard loud booming noises but assumed it was part of the construction that had been taking place on the bridge.

“I looked up toward the river and just saw this dust and the bridge starting to fall,” he said.

Mueller put his hands over his head and ran, he said. A large piece of concrete fell on the sidewalk where he’d just been standing, he said.

Mueller saw the school bus that had been carrying 61 children and staff members back to Minneapolis from a field trip in Coon Rapids.

The bus door opened and Mueller, along with three or four other bystanders, ran to help, he said.

Mueller said he and the others helped children over the guardrail to safety as they ran toward the side of the bridge, away from the bus. Mueller doesn’t recall how many children they helped.

Nearly an hour later, when Mueller was starting to walk home, he bumped into someone and one of his headphones fell out of his ear, he said. He realized he hadn’t turned his music off and his iPod was playing the whole time.

“I started thinking about how close it had been, the enormity of what had happened,” he said.

-Ahnalese Rushmann

Chrissy Kummer, Inver Hills Community College senior

Images of Chrissy Kummer’s white Toyota Corolla perched near the crumbling edge of what used to be the Interstate 35W bridge have peppered news reports since the Aug. 1 disaster.

The Inver Hills Community College senior escaped the scene unharmed.

Kummer was driving on the bridge when she said she felt her car suddenly jump up and then drop down. She found herself staring down into a gaping hole of rubble where a pickup truck was split in half, she said.

“I was screaming bloody murder and everyone around me was dialing 911,” Kummer said. “It reminded me of a movie. It’s not something that’s supposed to happen in real life.”

When she looked beside her, she said a truck was rolling down the bridge into the hole – moments after people had gotten out of the vehicle. She had apparently put on her car’s emergency brake, though she said she didn’t remember doing it.

“I guess I put the emergency brake on because I thought if I took my foot off the brake (my car) would roll down into the hole,” she said.

Kummer called her father from inside her car and tried to explain what had happened. It was all happening so fast, though; she doesn’t remember what she said.

“The guy next to me was saying ‘get out of your car.’ Then I said to my dad, ‘I gotta go,’ and I hung up,” she said.

She made it to safety and waited two hours at the scene for her mother to bring her to the hospital.

“I’m fine now,” Kummer said. “I’m a little sore and shook up, but I’m fine.”

-Ahnalese Rushmann, Marni Ginther contributed to this report