BY GABE LICHT
DELANO, MN Kelli Groves was driving on US Highway 101 with her two daughters when a semi drove over her BMW and plunged into a ravine, leaving the BMW dangling from a bridge about 100 feet in the air.
The three were trapped for nearly three hours as emergency personnel attempted to rescue them.
Minneapolis-based Committee Films recreated the story on West River Road in Delano in October for an episode of “20/20: In an Instant” titled “Hanging in the Balance,” which aired at 8 p.m. Saturday on ABC, and can be viewed by following the link at www.abc.go.com/shows/in-an-instant/episode-guide.
Committee Films Senior Vice President Maria explained how the scene was recreated in Delano.
“There aren’t any bridges in Delano that are as high as the 101,” Awes said. “We hung the car off where the road is higher up. When you see the episode, part of our job is to make sure it looks like the real thing. We studied pictures to make sure it was as accurate as possible. We do a lot of work in graphics to recreate the whole scene around what we’re filming. Instead of seeing West River Road, you’ll see the very high 101 bridge.”
Awes said Committee Films representatives drove throughout the area looking at several locations to determine which spot could be used.
“We needed something high enough so we could construct part of what looked like a bridge,” Awes said. “It couldn’t be an actual bridge. We couldn’t shut down an overpass for a week. We needed space around it. This fit the bill.”
Because the site was located on city property, Committee Films needed city council approval to film there.
“The city of Delano was great to work with, and so were the local vendors,” Awes said. “The Peppermint Twist gave our whole crew shakes on the last day. I heard they were very tasty. We appreciate that. We are looking for cities that want us to be there.”
Committee Films has also filmed episodes of “20/20: In An Instant” in Independence, including the first episode of the season, “A Tornado Emergency,” which was the No. 1 show that night.
“We were really proud of that episode, and all the episodes we do,” Awes said. “That one was about how a tornado went through and devastated an elementary school in Moore, OK.”
Just as an episode filmed in Independence started the season, an episode filmed there will also end the season Saturday, July 23.
That episode, “Buried by Bonfire,” details the collapse of a bonfire structure at Texas A&M in 1999.
“We interviewed students who were trapped and rescuers,” Awes said. “It was a long rescue. You had to determine which logs you could move without causing more injury to those trapped in there.”
For the set, crews built the first layer of the bonfire, using graphics and special effects to fill in the rest of it.
Awes is thankful for cities like Delano and Independence that allow Committee Films to produce films there.
“We’ve had really good luck working with communities in Minnesota,” Awes said.
So, will Committee Films return to the area to film again?
“Hopefully,” Awes said. “We always try to work with places and cities where we’ve had good experiences. We’re more than open to film something in the future, whether for this show or one of our other productions.”