School Bus Driver Shares Her Family's Story About I-35W Bridge Collapse

August 01, 2017 10:59 PM

It is one of the most enduring images of the I-35W bridge collapse: A yellow school bus lay perched precariously on the bridge next to a burning food truck carrying bread. 

Driver Kim Dahl had 56 people on board.  The majority of her passengers were students.  The rest were staff members. 

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All of them lived to recount that day.

"I have not and cannot drive over that bridge still to this day," Dahl said.

In that split second of uncertainty, Dahl said she could not imagine what had happened.

"Hanging on and not knowing what was happening. If someone hit me, or something happened. I didn't know," Dahl said. "And being on my brake, holding the steering wheel was my first priority because I knew those kids were on on the bus," Dahl said.

RELATED: School Bus Survivors Recall the I-35W Bridge Collapse

Those kids included two of her own children, 5-year-old David and 10-year-old Arrianna.

"It was hard being a bus driver, though, and having other people's kids on there besides my own, because I felt they were family," Dahl said.

Her husband, Dave Dahl, said it was traumatic not knowing what had happened to his family until he made his way to the hospital where they were being treated for injuries.

"I just, my mind was racing and I didn't even know what to think.  I had to get down there and I had to get there quick," he said.

Both of the Dahl's children said even though they were young, the memories are vivid.

"It kind of shaped who I wanted to become. I went to school for nursing. I took EMT an emergency responder in high school wanting to be that kind of person to make a difference in someone's life when that goes down," Arrianna Merritt said.

Her brother David Dahl still has reminders of that day all around him as the years progress.

"I still have bad days. Like thunder and stuff like that still gets to me," he said. "And vibrations. Really, really bad vibrations. I don't like those."

The entire family said they are stronger because of their shared experience on the bridge that day, but they said their hearts are still heavy for the 13 people who did not get to live to tell their stories.

Credits

Jay Kolls

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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