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Search Resumes for More Victims of Bridge Collapse; 25 Percent of Nation's Bridges in Need of Repair; Toy Recall: China Concerns

Aired August 03, 2007 - 11:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You're with CNN. You're informed.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments are keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on this Friday.

Here now is what's on the rundown.

Minnesota's deadly bridge collapse. New today, the death toll rises by one as divers search the Mississippi River for other victims.

HARRIS: The cost of repairs. Securing America's structurally deficient bridges following the money trail.

COLLINS: And a massive recall -- toys made in China and potentially hazardous to your child's health.

It's Friday, August 3rd, in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: The official death toll climbs by one. The grim search for victims resumes. The latest now on the Minnesota bridge collapse.

The medical examiner confirms this morning that another victim has been recovered. That brings the official death toll to five. But officials say that number is certain to go higher.

Divers going back in the water this morning to search for more victims. The sheriff's office says eight people are still unaccounted for.

First Lady Laura Bush expected to arrive at the site of the bridge collapse this hour. She will meet with victims and family members. The president goes there tomorrow.

COLLINS: Tons of twisted debris, strong river currents, just some of the hazards in the search for more victims of the Minnesota bridge collapse.

Live to Minneapolis now and CNN's John Roberts.

Hi there, John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. Good morning to you, Heidi.

You know, in the wake of the September 11th attacks, first responders across the country have been training intensely to respond to any type of disaster, and it's not just manmade disasters, but natural ones as well. But as much as they've been training here in Minneapolis -- and they have been training a great deal -- the scope of this disaster with an entire bridge coming down has challenged even their best efforts.

They're learning as they go along, they're adlibbing a bit here and there. And they're finding that sometimes things that they do actually create different problems.

For example, the sheriff asked the Army Corps of Engineers to lower the level of Mississippi River, which they can with a series of locks and dams here. When they did that, it exposed more of the debris, but it created a problem because, you know, the old saying still waters run deep. As the water gets shallower, the current starts to run faster, and there's so much debris in the water that has created a lot of dangerous eddies on the up-river side of that bridge, which is where they believe the remaining casualties, if there are remaining casualties, and they do believe that there are, may be. So they've had to really slow down their operations here, trying to find some new work-arounds.

The sheriff said that it could take as long as for the rest of the weekend to finally clear the rest of that wreckage before they know exactly how many people died. As you said, Heidi, the death toll went up by one as of yesterday. It is still expected to go up, though, not by as much as previously.

By midafternoon yesterday, rescue workers had a pretty clear idea that there were not 20 to 30 people who were still missing, that that number was probably down more in the range of eight. But again, it's going to be a long, hard slog here in very muddy waters of the Mississippi. The sheriff's department is attacking it as best they can.

At the same time, the National Traffic Safety Board is getting some very good information as to what may have happened in this bridge collapse, or at least the sequence of things that happened.

Some people had been focusing on that center section of the bridge, that 390-foot-long span that goes over the river. The NTSB has got some video of the bridge collapse from a couple of angles, as we understand it, and that will help them piece together the events that led to the complete and catastrophic failure of this bridge.

The NTSB chairman, Mark Rosenker, also told me what they will do after the recovery operation is complete and all the bodies have been taken away. They start to move pieces of that bridge further downstream and lay them out on the shore, try to connect the dots, if you will, leading back to the first point of failure. And then they can compare that with records of bridge inspection and this idea that there may have been stress cracks in some of the steel to see if one of those pieces of steel let go and whether something could have been done to prevent this disaster -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Any short-term plans, John, as we move into the weekend there in Minnesota for traffic, for getting around, for events that happen every single weekend downtown Minneapolis?

ROBERTS: You know, that was something that we noticed last night, is that the traffic patterns have been indelibly altered here in Minneapolis. And yet, we didn't see a whole lot of effort on the part of local officials to keep that traffic flowing.

The main north/south bridge across the Mississippi River is gone and will be gone for as long as two years. There are other bridges. One of them, the 10th Avenue Bridge, which is the one that runs adjacent to the I-35 span, is out of commission now because rescue workers are using it. So it's been closed down.

So, there's three or four other crossing points. We saw a little bit of traffic control this morning. But still, no great effort, it would seem to me, to try to speed the flow of traffic across those remaining arteries over the Mississippi.

COLLINS: Yes. It's definitely hard to replace. But I'm glad you made that clarification about the 10th Avenue Bridge there, Cedar Avenue Bridge, as some people might know, because we keep seeing it in the shots and we see vehicles on it, but they are rescue vehicles, not ready for public transportation of course at this time.

CNN's John Roberts coming from Minneapolis this morning.

Thank you, John.

HARRIS: They were wives and mothers, husbands, fathers heading home after a day of work. We now know the identities of four of the five victims of the Minnesota bridge collapse.

The news was a heartbreaking outcome for the daughters of one victim interviewed yesterday on CNN. Ann and Jessica Engebretsen were hoping against the odds that their mother had somehow managed to survive. Last evening they got the news they feared.

Their mother, Sherry, was among the first four victims identified by the medical examiner. In addition to Sherry Engebretsen, the other victims have been identified as 36-year-old Patrick Holmes; 29-year- old Artemio Trinidad-Mena; and 32-year-old Julia Blackhawk.

COLLINS: Crumbling bridges and highways, we have seen them before in earthquake-prone California. The state's former governor, Pete Wilson, is joining me now to talk more about infrastructure.

He is in Los Angeles this morning.

Governor, thanks for being with us today.

Obviously, you have been through something similar to this a couple of times at least before. In particular, you provided your leadership during the 1989 Bay area earthquake, and then again in the 1994 Northridge quake. And now that we have seen this tragedy in Minneapolis, why does it seem like it always takes something as horrific as this to really shine the spotlight on something as important as our infrastructure?

PETE WILSON, FMR. CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: Heidi, I think that it's probably human nature to not spend money if you don't think you have to. But I think that what we've learned the hard way is that it's really essential to determine the strength of structures upon which life literally depends, whether we're talking about bridges of the kind that collapsed in Minneapolis, or the kind of freeway bridges that carry tremendous amounts of traffic here in California.

COLLINS: And there's also this -- let's go ahead and listen for just a moment if we could to the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and something that he had to say on this topic.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I think we should look at this tragedy that occurred as a wakeup call for us. We have, all over the country, a crumbling infrastructure -- highways, bridges, dams -- and we really need to take a hard look at this.


COLLINS: We know that Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman is preparing some legislation. I believe there's a bill in the works that he spoke about in some of the press conferences that we've been seeing coming out of Minneapolis regarding the infrastructure. But I just wonder how quickly any of that can happen and what needs to be done by way of funding, money, to make a real impact?

WILSON: Well, I think it can be greatly shortcut, and it is obviously essential that you put the adequate funding behind it. But you can also cut a great deal of red tape.

We did that in 1994. Governor Schwarzenegger has done it more recently.

What we did was to suspend the operation of statutes and regulations that really simply would have delayed and impeded what was obviously needed to be done. And we also incentivized the contractors.

We said we want to know not how much you will charge, but when you will finish. And then we want you to agree to a condition that for every day you're late you'll suffer a penalty of $200,000, for every day that you're early, you'll win a bonus of $200,000.

After the Northridge earthquake, we were told that the freeway bridges on the I-10 system would be down for two years and two months.


WILSON: It took 64 -- no, 66 days for us to put them back into operation. We've also, in the wake of both of those earthquake disasters, Loma Prieta and the Northridge quake, undertaken massive review and also massive expenditures. We retrofitted about 1,000 after Loma Prieta bridge and highway bridges across the state. We identified another 1,200 that we thought needed attention and retrofitted those, including seven toll bridges, after the Northridge earthquake.

A second phase after Northridge cost us about $2 billion. It's money well spent. It's preventive.

COLLINS: Yes. And I know you're talking about after the 1994 quake, like you said, 66 days to repair that one freeway.

Obviously, you had luck with navigating the red tape, but the cause was very clear. And this was an earthquake. We are still in the recovery mode. The NTSB really trying to determine what may have happened here.

Keeping that in mind, do you have any advice for the Department of Transportation or the congressmen and women, senators of Minnesota, to get the city back up and running?

WILSON: If the governor does not have the authority that I had under the California government code to suspend the operation of statutes and regulations that will not assist but will actually impair and delay the recovery, the rebuilding, then the legislature should give it to him as an emergency measure. And I think, frankly, the incentives that we provided also resulted in a very substantial hastening of the rebuilding of our freeways.

I would think the same thing could be done in the case of the bridge. I certainly hope so.

COLLINS: Yes, I hope so, too. But Governor, do you think it's possible that we might actually really be spending too much money sometimes building new bridges and roads instead of maintaining the many that are out there right now? And some of them, as we've been seeing in these reports that have come out, are already structurally deficient.

WILSON: Well, I agree that you need to inspect for safety and to retrofit where that can be done, and done well and as quickly as possible. If it can't be, then you may be looking at rebuilding simply a new -- a new bridge instead of repairing the old one. But that's an engineering design and inspection responsibility.

The professionals can tell you that, but they have to have been directed to do it. They have to then be provided with the necessary funding and the assistance that can come from streamlining the process by getting rid of unneeded impediments that are purely procedural.

COLLINS: Well, we certainly hope all of that can be done very quickly.

We appreciate your time here today.

Former governor of California, Pete Wilson, this morning.

Thank you.

WILSON: My pleasure.

HARRIS: And quickly now, let's get to T.J. Holmes in the CNN NEWSROOM. T.J. is following a developing story of a raid in Oakland, California, of a bakery there.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, Tony, we're getting a lot more details. Good morning to you.

A lot more now from affiliate KTVU that's doing some reporting there. But these are the pictures we were watching.

This is Your Black Muslim Bakery is the name of this place. It's a staple there in the community, been there a long time. Several locations, known for certainly some of their baked goods, but also it's a community outreach group that really has opened its doors over the years to struggling families.

So it's not just a bakery. There's more to this group.

Well, there was a raid this morning. Nineteen people now in custody, is what we know. But according to our affiliate, these 19 people are being detained, again, according to KTVU, because they believe they have connections to at least three homicides that have happened in the past month, as well as other types of various violent crimes.

Again, this is according to KTVU, our affiliate.

And so now you have these 19 people in custody, one of them being Yousef Bey IV, who is the son of the founder of Your Black Muslim Bakery.

Now, again, several municipalities have been involved in this raid, not just there in Oakland, but several around, according to the police chief there in Oakland. This was part of a yearlong investigation.

Now, again, they've been arrested, these 19, in connection with three homicides in the past month. One of them, according to KTVU, happens to be the murder we saw just yesterday of a local reporter, Chauncey Bailey. He was a long-time reporter there in the Bay area, was the editor of "The Oakland Post," was gunned down in the middle of the street yesterday by masked gunmen. According to KTVU, he was actually work on a story that had to do with Your Black Muslim Bakery.

So, these are the reports we're getting now from affiliate KTVU, getting a lot more details about this raid. We're trying to figure out why and what locations, but there were four locations in addition to Your Black Muslim Bakery. Four all together, including Your Black Muslim Bakery. But 19 people in custody in connection with some violent crimes, including three homicides in the past month. So we are getting more details. We are expecting, Tony, a 3:00 Pacific news conference. We'll hopefully get even more clarity about what exactly is going on.

But again, we saw that horrible, violent -- that murder of that "Oakland Post" editor, Chauncey Bailey, gunned down in the middle of the street by masked gunmen.

HARRIS: It's unbelievable.

HOLMES: Well, now the report is that, in fact, the story he was working on for Your Black Muslim Bakery -- he was working on a story for them -- well, it appears now that it's being reported that the people being held are being held in connection with that murder.

So a big raid here, a huge raid in the predawn hours. Nineteen people in custody right now. A lot more details to come in that press conference -- Tony.

HARRIS: T.J., thanks for the update.

HOLMES: All right.

COLLINS: Cute, cuddly and potentially dangerous. More than a million toys recalled. We'll tell you about that.

HARRIS: One catastrophe, many moments of terror.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cars don't seem like they're straight anymore. They're, you know, kind of tilted. And the construction barrels kind of, you know, off in the air. And I swear I saw a construction worker, you know, in midair.


HARRIS: Boy, oh, boy. An amazing survivor's story, details.

We'll share them with you, coming up in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Images of a tragedy. The Minneapolis bridge collapse, our I-Reporters on the scene. Viewers share their stories.

HARRIS: Impacting your world. The tragedy in Minneapolis has touched people across the country and moved many to do, well, some outreach to those in need.

You can find out more about the disaster, as well as what you can do to help, at


HARRIS: Hampering the bridge collapse recovery effort, murky water and rapid river currents. The Army Corps of Engineers is helping out by raising and lowering the water level. On the phone in St. Paul, Scott Bratten. He is with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Scott, thanks for your time this morning.


HARRIS: Hey, Scott, if you would, talk us through what have been the challenges in trying to manage this situation and provide the optimum condition as we look at some of the video now for divers and recovery teams to go in and do their work. What have been the challenges and the considerations of managing the river levels and, by extension, you know, the impact of that on the river currents?

BRATTEN: Well, actually, I don't know if you're aware, we are in about over a year of drought levels up here and flows. So, our flows are actually running about 25 percent of what we consider a normal flow in the twin cities area. That's actually probably helped the situation. No doubt about it.

The bridge collapse was in what we refer to as our lock and dam number one pool. And in a low-flow environment, we generally hold or we try to hold an elevation of 725.1, which if you're going to say, well, what does that number mean?


BRATTEN: ... that's actually 725 feet above mean sea level, being the Gulf of Mexico, which would be considered zero.

So what we tried to do to help the divers in this situation is draw down our pool one by a couple of feet. The crest of the dam, the top of the dam at lock one, which is downstream of the bridge collapse, we're holding 723 instead of 725. So we've drawn it down two feet to help the divers with their rescue efforts.

HARRIS: And what kind of impact did that have on river currents?

BRATTEN: Well, river currents -- the thing you have to be concerned about is possibly an eddy effect or velocities possibly increasing too much for the divers to do the work that they need to do up there.

HARRIS: And Scott, let me stop you there. Please explain the eddy effect that you just mentioned. What is that?

BRATTEN: Well, an eddy effect would be like a small tornado, if you can imagine a tornado, just a small, little tornado in the water that might develop around the bridge structures that have fallen into the water.

HARRIS: And you had to be very careful as you're lowering the river levels not to create conditions where you get that kind of eddy effect?

BRATTEN: That's correct.


And if you would, the lower flow you mentioned because of the drought has been helpful. Otherwise, explain what we might have at this scene here in terms of all the debris that's in the water. I guess we're talking about a huge dam at this point?

BRATTEN: Yes. We would probably have a huge dam if this was a high-flow year or maybe normal flow year, definitely a high-flow year. You would have this huge dam with tree and debris and whatever else would be coming down the river. So it's actually been -- the drought has actually had a little bit of silver lining in it, being that we have this low-flow situation.

HARRIS: And if you would, just sort of tell us where we are today in terms of river level and what you've done today. My understanding of -- well, I'm not -- I don't know what you've done.

Have you lowered the river level? Have you increased it a bit because of some of the current problems? Where are we right now?

BRATTEN: Right now we are at 723.0, which is still two feet below what we would consider a normal elevation for this time of year. All the way up to the tail water of our St. Anthony Falls Dam, which is located right upstream of the bridge that did collapse. So we are two feet low in that pool at this time.

HARRIS: And Scott, at some point here soon you will probably have to raise the river levels just to allow some of the barges to get in with some of the heavy equipment that's going to be necessary for the cleanup, is that correct?

BRATTEN: That's correct. That's a very good point.

Right now, traffic, as you are probably aware, is closed to all commercial navigation and recreational vehicles, from right below lock and dam one up through the twin cities. The only vehicles being allowed up there at this point are emergency vehicles and construction vehicles. So, yes, if they're not able to get up there in this low- flow environment, then I guess we'll have to stop possibly with the divers and get them into place.


Scott Bratten is with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Scott, great information. Thanks for your time this morning.

BRATTEN: You bet. Have a good day.

COLLINS: Following the money. From Washington to America's crumbling bridges, where are the billions set aside for road repair?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Concerns about lead in toys from China presenting a safety risk for Americans. Mattel has recalled more than a million Chinese-made toys.

Here's CNN's Kitty Pilgrim.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lead poisoning in young children can lower I.Q., affect learning ability, and damage the liver and kidneys. But there are no immediate symptoms, so parents wouldn't notice if their child was ingesting lead from a toy.

DR. JAMES ROBERTS, MEDICAL UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA: Lead poisoning often starts without symptoms at all. They can be a normal child running around playing, but have an elevated blood-lead level, and you would never know it without testing them.

PILGRIM: Fisher-Price found lead paint on nearly a million Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego figures made in China between April and July of this year and imported into the United States.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it's a particularly bad case. The lead was in the yellow paint surface coating the toys, a blatant disregard of the ban on lead paint in children's toys.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, manned with 100 field inspectors, is struggling against rampant Chinese violations of safety standards; 80 percent of all toys in the U.S. now come from China. And, from October last year, of the 306 recalls of products, 100 percent of recalled toys were made in China.

JOAN LAWRENCE, TOY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: There are a couple of bills being talked about in Congress that would enhance the safety system, and we would be in favor of those.

PILGRIM: While there is a ban on lead paint, there is no ban on lead content in children's jewelry. Since 2004, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled 165 million pieces of jewelry with lead that could leak out.

LORI WALLACH, PUBLIC CITIZEN: These kind of problems where you have really unsafe imported products flooding into our homes is going to continue until we change the trade rules.

PILGRIM: The CPSC wants a total ban on lead in children's jewelry by 2008.

Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.


COLLINS: Welcome back on this Friday morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM.

The death toll goes up. The number of missing actually goes down. Here's what's going on right now in the Minnesota bridge collapse. The medical examiner tells us a fifth person has been confirmed dead, the victim's body recovered yesterday. The sheriff's office says eight people are still unaccounted for. That's down from earlier estimates of as many as 30 people missing. Right now divers are back in the Mississippi River searching through the debris for victims. That effort complicated by what the sheriff calls "treacherous conditions."

Investigators examining this surveillance video of the bridge collapse frame by frame. The head of the NTSB calls it a key piece of evidence. First Lady Laura Bush offering her support in a visit to the disaster scene this hour. She'll also meet with volunteers and first-responders. The president arrives on Saturday.

COLLINS: Old bridges, new worries, a couple of structures closed just in case. In Washington State, a 94-year-old bridge over the Elwa River. It was going to be demolished anyway to make way for a new span. The Minnesota bridge collapse prompting officials to shut it down one month early.

And in St. Louis, a closure moved up by one year, a bridge carrying about 10,000 vehicles a day. County officials say it was too risky to keep the 82-year-old structure open anymore.

HARRIS: Images of a tragedy, the Minneapolis bridge collapse, our i-reporters on the scene. Viewers shared their stories.




COLLINS: Illegal search. A federal appeals court ruling this morning on the FBI raid on Congressman William Jefferson's office last year. The court is ordering the Justice Department to return privileged documents taken from the Louisiana Democrat's office. Not all documents were ordered returned. Jefferson is facing 16 charges of using his office for personal gain. A raid on his home found $90,000 in a refrigerator freezer.



HARRIS: Another agonizing day of waiting for relatives of the missing. Back live now to Minneapolis and CNN's Don Lemon.

And, Don, there seems to be no shortage there of help available to those who need it.

LEMON: Yes, Tony, no shortage of help. Everyone is willing to jump in. Of course everyone's Hearts Across America pouring out. But really we've been talking yesterday, and even evening the evening before, talking about the people who jumped in just to help out, every day people volunteering and jumping in to get those people off the bridge and to try to rescue them.

I spoke earlier to Jeff Westall, who's one of the rescue people here. He's with the city of Minneapolis fire and rescue. He talked to us about finding that fifth victim. That's the news out of that, that fifth victim here, What he had to do with that. And also how the dams are using the locks and dams here to lower and raise the tide. or lower and raise the water level so they can provide some visibility for the divers and also help out in the rescue effort.

Let's take a listen to what had he to say.


LEMON: We're talking about finding the fifth body in all of this. That person found among the debris. And you said there was some difficulty with that because of the way the truck was structured or had landed during the collapse, and that that truck was on fire. Tell us about the efforts and why it took so long to get to that person.

CHIEF JEFF WESTALL, MINNEAPOLIS FIRE DEPT.: The time it takes to get to them is, after we go out of the rescue mode and we slow everything down, we want to make sure that the bridge is structurally sound; no more collapses are going to happen. So the engineers come in, take a look at the bridge. Kind of get it mapped out for us, tell us where we can and cannot go search.

LEMON: You wanted to make sure that truck was the way it landed, you said, there was an issue.

WESTALL: Well, the way it landed and the fact that it had been on fire, we wanted to make sure it wasn't going to go anywhere else so we could go in there and get the fifth victim out.

LEMON: So they deemed it safe, you when the in and got it. We've been talking about the dams that they control the water level with this. They had originally raised the water level during the rescue effort so that they could get boats in to try to get people out. Now they've lowered it, you're telling me, and that is helping the divers?

WESTALL: Right. Initially when we were still in the rescue mode they were trying to bring that pool up so they could get barges to us if we needed help lifting heavier objects. When we went into recovery mode, they kind of backed the cranes off. They were having trouble getting up here. And now with the divers in the water, they're trying to lower that water level back down to make it safer for them.

LEMON: Because the water level at one point was so low helping the divers, but then some of the boats, you said, were getting stuck.

WESTALL: Well, that was when we were still in rescue mode, there were some boats were trying to get upriver to help, and they got stuck on the rocks. When they got taken off the bridge the night is collapsed, the water on the downstream side of the bridge was only eight feet deep, so they were getting caught on rock piles and stuff further downstream.

LEMON: Explain to us this morning, the sheriff talked about the problem they were going to focus on upstream, but there were some issues in being able to get to the cars and to the debris that's upstream in the river.

WESTALL: I don't know -- I haven't heard that statement. I don't -- they say there's some debris that's further upstream, and that's all I know about that. I haven't been briefed or anything on those upstream cars yet.

LEMON: Just real quickly, on a personal level, you've been out talking to the media, and of course they've dispatched to you do that because there's so much interest in this story, as well as Shanna, who's been out. She's the lady we saw just walking through, looking for cars tethered. You guys have been dispatched to talk to the media, but you are hoping to get called back out, because that's what you want to do.

WESTALL: Yes. Yesterday I took my daughter to a doctor's appointment, and one of the employees at the doctor's office car is sitting out there. And she needs her life back. And she needs her purse. She needs the stuff that's in her car, and I want to go back out there and try and help her get her life back.

LEMON: And that's what you guys do.

WESTALL: That's what we do.


LEMON: Dozens of families here still in limbo. At least eight people, we're told, still unaccounted for. I guess the good news in that is that that count went down from 30 to eight, you know, eight people still missing, and as I said, dozens of families. The first lady of the United States, Laura Bush, expected to tour the damaged area today, and also to talk to some of the family members who are waiting. The Red Cross, of course, here in the hotel where the media has been staked out. And the first lady expected to visit the Red Cross. The people who are providing help talked to them.

And also children's issues, important to the first lady, a former librarian. She's expected to talk to try to talk to those kids who were on that school bus when this bridge collapsed. And then the president will visit here tomorrow -- Tony.

HARRIS: All right. Don Lemon for us in Minneapolis. Don, thank you.

Still to come this morning, the water relatively shallow, but filled with danger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rebar, jagged metal from the cars. You know, you've all that jagged metal from the fenders and the stuff that's all buckled. You've got broken glass in the windows that you're reaching through.


HARRIS: How divers train for underwater rescue and recovery.


COLLINS: You are sharing your stories and images of the Minnesota bridge collapse. Some amazing i-Reports to show you now this morning. Steve Dworak says he got to the scene about 15 minutes after the bridge fell. He used a digital camera to capture these pictures from about 50 feet away.

If you have photos, video or eyewitness stories send them to Just click on i-Report and it will walk you through the process.

HARRIS: A haunting picture, I'm sure you've seen it, a young mother holding her baby amidst the wreckage of the bridge collapse. There it is.

CNN's Anderson Cooper has her story.


MELISSA HUGHES, SURVIVOR OF BRIDGE COLLAPSE: I just remember going oh, my God. Oh, my God, oh, my God. And just, like, kind of shaking.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Melissa Hughes had just finished maternity leave. Readjusting to the daily grind hadn't been easy. Back in the office for a week, she couldn't wait for the day to end.

HUGHES: I just wanted to get home. I just wanted to get home and see my baby. See my baby. It's been a long day.

COOPER: Her commute home was bumper-to-bumper.

HUGHES: Yes, I had the windows up, the air conditioning on. The radio on. Just kind of zoning out.

COOPER: And then, suddenly, the ground fell away beneath her.

HUGHES: We're barely moving, if we're moving at all. And then it's, just things in the air. You know, the cars don't seem like they're straight anymore. They're, you know, kind of tilted. And the construction barrels kind of, you know, off in the air. And I swear I saw a construction worker, you know, in mid-air.

And then, all of a sudden, just a free-fall feeling. And then I had that free-fall feeling twice. And then, I heard a loud smash. And I look in my rear-view mirror. And my back window is totally smashed. And I can see that there's something there that smashed it. But I don't know what it is. I don't really think about what it is.

COOPER: Panic. Confusion. Screams. And then, a calm, steady voice.

HUGHES: Someone comes up and opens up the driver's side door of my car and asks if I'm OK. And I said yes.

And they said, "Can you get out?"

He helped me get out. I said, "I don't know. What are we supposed to do? Where are we supposed to go?"

He was like, "I'll show you. I'll show you."

COOPER: The stranger walked Melissa down off the bridge. Safe on firm ground, she turned back.

HUGHES: I looked back and I see that there's -- it's a vehicle that's on top of my car. That's what had made the smash. It was a pickup truck that had flipped over and landed on my car.

COOPER: The horror snapped into focus. Frantic, Melissa called her husband. She wanted her baby, her only child, Olivia.

HUGHES: I told him that he had to bring her. I just had to hold her. I had to -- I had to have my baby in my arms. I had to have her.

COOPER: Her husband brought Olivia to the scene.

HUGHES: I could see him getting Olivia out of the car. And that's when I started to cry. And by the time I got there, I was just bawling. We just stood there and held each other for a while.

COOPER: Her emotions, a new mother, protective, fearful, hard to describe.

HUGHES: I was happy and sad at the same time. Yes. And the biggest relief and the scariest thing altogether. That it was -- it was really close. It was really close. You know, she's a baby. She could have lost her mommy. Yes.

COOPER: Impulsively, Melissa nursed her baby just steps from the collapsed bridge and carried Olivia back to the mangled car.

HUGHES: Just so thankful that we're able to be together. We're really lucky. We're really lucky. And we're both, you know, safe and physically, totally fine. Totally fine.

COOPER: Anderson Cooper, CNN, Minneapolis.


COLLINS: Following the money, from Washington to America's crumbling bridges. Where are the billions set aside for road repair?