Victims in 35W bridge tragedy given remnants

6:08 AM, Aug 29, 2013   |    comments
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OAKDALE, Minn. - The Minnesota Department of Transportation distributed remnants of the 35W bridge to victims and families connected to the 2007 tragedy. 

Nearly nine million pounds of steel stretched across the department's Oakdale warehouse Wednesday night, all of the parts were studied by the National Transportation Safety Board after the collapse. 

State law passed this year specifies who can receive the pieces of the bent steel, and nearly two dozen families came to sift through rusted and bent steel, mostly from the southern end of the bridge. 

"It would be nice to have something to show the power of what happened, we don't' have control over things," said Lori Stanoch, of Medford, Minnesota whose brother died in the collapse. 

Paul Eickstadt was driving a bread truck, and spent his last moments making a bus full of kids smile before his truck was crushed. 

"His death with the bridge and everything taught me so much about myself and my relationship with God, that's why I want a piece, because if I can ever share with anybody else, how to get through tragedy," said Stanoch. 

The Stanochs found pieces of the part of the bridge pier Eickstadt was on when he died. 

They plan to turn the metal into a bench. "I think it will be neat having something out by the fire, he can sit by the campfire, that is what we remember him as," said Jim Stanoch. 

Rob Bailey was one of the PCI construction workers repairing the bridge that day. He lost a co-worker. He quickly found the part of the bridge he worked on, hoisting it into his truck, saying it's a reminder of the miracle he survived. 

He plans to turn the wreckage into a glass coffee table. "Our version of 9-11 something I would not wish upon anybody," said Bailey. "It's a piece of history. Hopefully something that never happens again but something I will cherish for the rest of my life that somehow I was spared." 

Ten more families will privately claim their own pieces of the bridge September 14. MnDOT says what is not claimed will be sold for scrap by Thanksgiving.

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