Bridge safety deserves consideration

Let’s work together to use our educated minds to find a solution, rather than just pass it off with criticism.

I am very disappointed in all the negative response to the issue of bridge safety. I understand criticism is necessary for the best possible solution, but with criticism should come a suggestion that still aids in fixing the problem at hand, rather than one just saying there are more important problems.

I don’t have the solution, either. I do believe, though, that something could be done. Brad Bogard is at least trying to do something, rather than just complaining about other problems that money and energy could be spent on but probably won’t.

Some may say this is not an issue at all, but just a one-time accident. I guess that if it happened once, what will stop it from happening again? There are real people involved with this; it isn’t just about money.

I happened to be right there on Sept. 5, 2006. It just so happened that on the first day of class one of my professors was ill, and we were dismissed early from class. I was walking over the bridge next to the edge, because I love to see the view. I heard a big splash in the river and looked over the edge. I was confused to see particles floating in the water and thought someone dropped their garbage in the river. I was, however, proven incorrect when the body of a woman floated to the surface.

For a split second, I thought she jumped into the river to swim, but immediately realized my optimistic small-town ideas were wrong. I frantically told the person ahead of me who then dialed 911, and he had problems getting through. I then dialed 911 and screamed to them to hurry and explained the location. I then watched her try to drown herself and discovered the horrible feeling of being unable to help someone in need. I tried screaming to her that “it would be OK” and she “should try to swim.”

She couldn’t hear me. I couldn’t understand how someone could do that. To take it to that step, I had never witnessed anything like it. I felt like I would be sick, and I couldn’t get over the feeling of how helpless I was. I couldn’t do anything from the top. Luckily, the boat was in the water to save her, or so I thought at the time. The police then called me back and asked me to go with them to do a written statement.

I felt so sick, I couldn’t stop shaking. I felt like a child. I did not know the woman, but I could not get over watching her try to intentionally drown herself.

After it was over, the police said they would drive me to my dorm. Instead, I decided to walk to convocation. I immediately called my parents on the way there, crying and saying, “I hope this really isn’t like what college is going to be like.” Convocation seemed out of place from what I had just experienced.

The next day the police called to tell me her condition. I was so glad to hear that she was alive and could now get the help she deserved. I followed the newspaper updates and had sympathy for her family. I was shocked to read in the paper of her death. Before hearing that, I had secured my fears with knowing she could now get help, but that security was taken away.

Now when I go over the bridge, I can’t help but replay what happened. I get this really eerie feeling. I also, as stated, can’t get over the feeling of being helpless. I had no way of getting down there. I remember saying over and over that “things don’t happen like this where I am from.” With that as my first day of college as a freshman, I hoped this didn’t happen often in the Twin Cities and that nobody else would ever do that or experience watching it.

I agree money should be spent wisely, and maybe we could fine-tune the plan. The issue, however, is serious; it is a problem. The scenic view is pretty much shot for me now. It has been how many months later, and you know what, I still think about what happened every day when I reach that point on the bridge. I think of her children, mainly.

I am not saying we should wreck everyone’s view, for the sake of a few. We can’t ignore the few, either. Let’s work together to use our educated minds to find a solution, rather than just pass it off with criticism. Don’t worry, I will keep thinking about a solution, too.

Laurel Vollmer is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]