HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
August 6, 2007

A tragedy right before our eyes

By Aaron Schultz

This was a pretty typical week for me, for the most part, that is until I got home from work Wednesday.

My week started out on Monday, as it does for most everyone. I headed into work for a few hours and did some web work.

After that I went home and did some cleaning, which was followed by going to Lester Prairie to get a few junior high football players their uniforms.

I then went to Winsted as the Wildcats played the Glencoe Brewers in a seeding game for regions (winning 16-8, yes).

Tuesday was a fairly busy day as I worked on the Region 7C program, among other things, late into the night.

This brings us to the day in question, Wednesday.

It started out like any day as I continued to work on the before mentioned program, needing to have it complete before I left for the day.

To my surprise I finished it up pretty early, especially for me, getting it out the door before 6:30 p.m.

After finishing up work I made my way home for a nice night – supper, then sit back and watch the Twins, which I haven’t had a chance to watch in a while.

That is when my week, and pretty much every other Minnesotans’ week, become far from normal.

As I walked in the door I had a call from my mother.

She asked me if I was watching the news? No, was my reply.

While she attempted to fill me in with what was going on in Minneapolis, I turned the news on, thanked her for calling me, and said I had to go.

There it was right on my little TV screen. The I-35 river bridge was no more.

I just kind of stared at the television in amazement. What was I looking at?

After a few minutes I started to get a grasp of what was going on.

Quickly, I grabbed some food, changed, and made my way down to the couch, and back in front of the TV.

I must have just sat and flipped between the local channels for almost an hour, attempting to see which one had the clearest images of the fallen bridge.

Then, quickly, the national news outlets picked up the story, and before I knew it I was flipping between seven or eight different channels – all of which were pretty much telling the same story.

How could this happen? How many people were hurt or killed? Was it terrorism?

Those were just a few of questions that just kept popping into my head as I sat there silently.

I had completely forgotten about the Twins’ game until after 8 p.m.

Surely they couldn’t be playing, but to my surprise, when I finally was able to pull myself away from the news and flip the station to Fox Sports Net, there they were, the Twins.

My first reaction was “Are you kidding me?” I couldn’t believe with the tragic events taking place just a few blocks away from the Metrodome, that they were continuing to play baseball.

But, when I heard the interview with the Twins’ Dave St. Peter, and his explanation of why the game was being played, it made a lot of sense to me.

The authorities didn’t want all of the fans in the Metrodome walking around the accident, and thought it would be better to keep them in the dome instead of sending them out to the streets.

Good call Twins.

With the Twins now on, I tried to watch the game, and not the news – anything to get my mind off this terrible accident.

It didn’t work. I couldn’t make it through even a half of an inning before I had to turn the news back on.

I ended up watching news reports until well past midnight, unable to pull myself away.

The next morning (Thursday) I woke up, and was right at it again.

Pulling myself away from the TV to get ready and head to work I started thinking of the dozens, and maybe even hundreds of times, that I had crossed that very bridge, with one time standing out.

It was several springs ago, I was coaching baseball, and we were on our way home from a game on a school bus, stuck in traffic, right on that bridge.

I remember looking out and seeing the dome, and looking down at the river below.

The one memory I have of that bus trip, was just how far up we were, sitting on that bridge over the Mississippi River.

Thinking of that the day after, it is just amazing to me that people in cars, fell that far and survived.

No doubt, Wednesday was one of the darkest days in Minnesota history, one that we all hope never repeats itself.