Survivor stories: Alicia Harris

Alicia saw cars in front of her falling nose first into the river. Then she woke up underwater.

MINNEAPOLIS - On Aug. 1, 2007 the heavily-used Interstate 35W bridge collapsed, sending concrete and rebar, vehicles and the people inside them plunging into the Mississippi River. Thirteen people lost their lives and 145 were injured, some of them critically.

On the 10-year anniversary of this life-changing event, KARE 11 is checking in with some of those whose lives changed forever that day. We asked each of them three questions.

Here are the answers, in their own words.

Alicia Harris

Where were you?

I was on the center part of the bridge, on my way to pick up my 2-year-old daughter from Grandma and Grandpa’s. I was stopped. I was just sitting there, traffic was at a halt. I was just crawling across the bridge. First thing I remember is getting that feeling when you’re on a rollercoaster and your stomach drops. Where the bridge broke in front of me, there were cars that were falling nose first, and cars that were falling backwards. I remember falling, then I remember waking up under water. The first thing I thought about when it happened is my daughter, and what she’s going to do without a mom. And I was just worried for her and what her future was going to be like without me. And then I woke up, and I’m still alive. The driver side window I’m assuming shattered from the impact of the fall. I was able to get out there, swim to the surface and that’s when I looked around and saw rubble. Nine of the 13 people who died, died in the water around me. That was devastating to learn and why I got to survive and they didn’t.

How did it affect you?

Physically, I have pain every day. PTSD. I was going over a bridge that had construction one time and it sent me into a straight panic attack. Mall of America, you’re in the upper levels and the floor bounces. And that’s normal, but I can’t handle that. I notice it. I bet 90 percent of people don’t notice it. Overcoming trauma is hard. Overcoming PTSD is hard. Dealing with anxiety is hard. You might not see it. I tend to be a very bubbly person. I smile through hard times. But it is hard.

Where are you now?

So now, for me, life is all about the little things. I don’t really care about climbing the corporate ladder anymore. I get to be home with my kids. I throw crazy birthday parties. I care more about backyard BBQs with friends.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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