Finding a moment of peace

December 17, 2007

In the midst of terror, 1985 DC graduate found hope and help from God

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

As a survivor of the I-35 W bridge collapse, Michele (Rosin) McLane has stopped asking “why?” and has started spreading her story of faith.

“I’ve been able to let go of the why’s – that’s what will mess you up,” said the 1985 DC graduate.

As to why she survived the Aug. 1 event, “I just say ‘I don’t know’ and let it go,” McLane said.

Although her faith was strong, the event has made her step forward and tell people about it in a 30-minute video.

A viewing of her video will be given at a special presentation by McLane at 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 6 at Dassel Covenant Church. The viewing is open to the public.

‘A day like no other’

McLane remembers Aug. 1 as a “day like no other” – a day she decided to take a different route home and ended up on the I-35W bridge as it shook beneath her.

Traveling northbound from her job in Richfield to her home in Stacy, McLane decided to take I-35W instead of her usual route, I-35E, because she thought there would be less traffic.

“Sometimes, there are reasons we don’t understand,” McLane said explaining how she spoke with her husband on the phone in the parking ramp before driving.

She was crossing I-35W when she felt a shake, like an earthquake.

“I fully expected the bridge to stop moving,” McLane said in the video.

As her car was falling, McLane had never been so scared in her life, thinking of the water below.

She prayed, “God, get me out of here. Help!”

At that moment, God took all that fear and terror away, she said.

With her car at an incline (due to a train parked underneath), still on the bridge, McLane had a one-on-one connection with God.

God told her, “Your foot is still on the accelerator,” she said. So McLane floored it.

When she reached flat ground, she looked in her rear view mirror to see if any other cars were following her to safety.

“Come on!” she said. But she knew no one else was coming . . . she knew people had just died on that bridge.

“[It’s hard] to sit there and know you’re the last one,” McLane said.

In her video, McLane explained there were other drivers sitting in traffic not knowing what lay ahead of them.

She remembers seeing people mad and upset because this was causing a delay in their commute – they didn’t know the bridge collapse was the cause.

“I wonder if that’s what God feels like,” she said, knowing the path that lies ahead of those drivers unaware.

McLane explained how, as humans, we get upset when things don’t go our way.

For those drivers sitting in traffic, “they were safer where they were,” she said.

“Sometimes, we should be grateful when things don’t happen when we want them to,” McLane said.

A survivor’s message

A few weeks had passed since the collapse when McLane got home from work and began writing down her story.

“God was clearly after me and my heart to do this,” she said explaining the constant urges to write it down.

At that point, she felt peace. Unfortunately, it only lasted a few days, and she felt the need to do something more than just write her story on paper.

Eventually, she found a video producer to tell the story. In it, she, along with her husband, Shawn, and her parents, recall that Wednesday afternoon in August.

“Every time I moved forward in the project, I felt peace and I knew it was from God,” McLane said about the video.

“And I even fought Him a bit,” she said.

The message McLane tries to convey in her video is to not wait to make a decision regarding one’s faith.

“I didn’t have time to think about if He was real or not – I needed to know that,” McLane said during a phone conversation.

Although McLane is unsure how many times she will be giving her presentation, she is going to see where it goes and where God leads her.

The video was recently uploaded to McLane’s web site www.survive35w.com, where it can be viewed.

Moving on

McLane explained that many of those injured in the collapse don’t remember all the details of the event as clearly as she can.

Knowing the details, McLane went through “a full gamut of emotions,” from depression and isolation to euphoria for being alive, she said.

Now, she needs to go to survivor meetings less and less and can drive over bridges and overpasses just fine, but is scared to drive on the new bridge.

“One day I was going around the detour and I thought, ‘I’m going to have to drive over that new bridge,’ and I began to cry,” she said.

Because she will not live in fear, McLane admits she and her husband will have to drive over the new bridge five or six times before she does it alone, but she will drive on that bridge again, she said.

For more information or to view the video go to www.survive35w.com.

McLane is the daughter of Willard and Ruth Block, formerly of Dassel, and the granddaughter of Norman and Lucy Stewart of Cokato. She was Miss Dassel in 1984 and graduated from Dassel-Cokato in 1985. She and her husband live in Stacy with their two dachshunds and a cat.

If you would like to comment on this story or read other comments, go to the Enterprise blog.