I-35W Bridge Collapse Survivor has Come to Understand Why She Lived

August 01, 2017 07:30 PM

Thirteen people were killed when the I-35W Bridge collapsed.

There were also many close calls, and some survivors wonder, 'why me?'  


Erica Loecken thinks she's figured that out.

It's been 10 years since the bridge collapse and Loecken, her husband Bryan and their son Joshua have an incredible life.

"I can't believe it's been 10 years," Loecken said. "In some ways it seems like longer than that. In other ways it seems like just yesterday." 

35W Bridge: 10 Years Later

Loecken was driving south on Interstate 35W at 6:05 p.m. on Wednesday August 1, 2007. She was thinking about having dinner and going to church, when the road started to bounce.

"And then the people in front of me were kind of dropping out of sight, like their back ends were bouncing and they were dropping out of site. And then I started falling."

She and her car fell 85 feet and landed in a spot on the bridge that was almost undisturbed.

WATCH: Ceremony Marking 10th Anniversary of I-35W Bridge Collapse

"And I just remember life just flashing before my eyes," she said. "It's really strange how you hear stories about people saying that. And I literally thought about years of my life."

Erica Loecken has a picture of the moments after the bridge collapsed. It shows her talking on the phone.

"I'm trying to get ahold of my then boyfriend, Bryan."

"When the phone call came through it was very garbled," Bryan Loecken said. "We were supposed to meet that night and all I got out of it was she was going to be late. That's all I could understand."

"And it was hard to get through to people, so eventually I just couldn't even make phone calls," Erica Loecken said.

Bryan Loecken said he turned the news on and saw the bridge had collapsed.

"I knew she was coming back from work and that was her route, and I started to get obviously very concerned," he said. "And within, I don't know it was half an hour, I did get a call from her confirming she was on the bridge."

Despite back and neck injuries, Loecken climbed off the bridge and eventually found Bryan, who took her to the hospital.
Looking back, she believes she had a rock to stand on that day. A photo helped describe what she meant. It’s a wider-angle image that shows her standing on the bridge deck between two other sections that rise up on either side. 

"What I love about this picture is that it makes me feel like I was in the palm of God's hand," she said. "Like here's his palm, here are his fingers and he's just got me right there."

Her faith has helped her make sense of why she's still here.

"It's amazing that more people didn't die that day," she said.

Why does Loecken think she lived when others didn't? 

"I have no idea," she said. "I think about it, I've thought about that a lot. I used to think about it more, and I have no idea. I just need to be thankful for the fact that I did survive. I think God wants Joshua to be here. So I had to be here for Joshua to be born!"

"We're just blessed that Erica is still here with us," Bryan Loecken said. "None of this would have happened for us; you know, getting married, having a son, none of that would have happened. So we're just very blessed that she's here and alive and with us."

It's an incredible story about an incredible life.

Erica Loecken attended a support group set up by Survivor Resources. She said it was helpful to share the experience with other people. Many of them still stay in touch through a Facebook group.


Kevin Doran

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