Survivor stories: Arrianna Merritt

Arrianna Merritt describes the day the 35W bridge collapsed.

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.

Arrianna Merritt (Bus driver Kim Dahl’s daughter)

Where were you?

I was also on the bridge. My mom was the bus driver. I did not want to leave without my mother. And she turned and looked at me and said “you need to get off this bus, now.” I stopped and stared back at the bus waiting, kind of wondering what was going to happen next. Wondering if my mom was actually going to come off the bus or not.

I was bawling at that point. I had tears down my face. I was really upset. I was getting panicked. Mom was still on the bus. I told Jimmy my mom’s still on the bus. I haven’t seen her get off since I got off. When he brought her out, it was like a breath of fresh air. Like, there she is.

How did it affect you?

I do not like elevators. Do not like the dropping feeling with my stomach. Do not like tall buildings. If I go to MOA, I have to continuously be walking, because as soon as I stop, I can feel the vibrations in the floor. And it scares me. I know it’s not going to fall, and I know nothing’s going to happen, but that feeling of what if it does,
Every day you kind of look back and say what if I didn’t have what I have now. What if I didn’t make it? What if I was more severe than it actually was? All the what ifs in life. And then you realize you’re here today. You got to make it last. You got to make a difference. You’ve got to push yourself to live.

Where are you now? (physically and emotionally)

I am currently going to college for nursing. After the bridge, I took EMT, emergency and first responder and fell in love with it.

© 2017 KARE-TV


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