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Rider's Almanac Blog


Operator springs to action after encountering a scary scene

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, February 17, 2021 9:50:00 AM

South Garage Operator Tony Fitzgerald, right, had just left the Cedar Grove Transit Station when he saw a vehicle in front of his Red Line bus begin to spin, crash into a snowbank and send a puff of snow into the air.

As he got closer, he realized the gravity of what he'd just witnessed – a small pick-up truck, its driver still seated in the driver's seat, was teetering over the edge of the Highway 77 bridge spanning the Minnesota River. 

"I expected to see a car up against the snowbank and instead it was up over the wall, half on and half off," Fitzgerald said this week. "I swore to myself, immediately pulled over and contacted the Transit Control Center." 

Fitzgerald briefly stopped at the driver's side door but the man inside was initially unresponsive and the door was too badly damaged to open more than a few inches. 

While another man went to the passenger side door, successfully freeing the driver, Fitzgerald joined others who were adding their body weight and sandbags to the truck bed, hoping to keep the vehicle from falling 40 feet into the wetlands below. 

When the driver was safely out of the vehicle, Fitzgerald invited him onto the bus where he could collect himself and stay warm. Minutes later, emergency responders arrived and Fitzgerald continued in service, relieved no one was harmed. 

"I've seen more accidents and spinouts on that highway in the past few weeks than I have in more than 20 years of driving, but I've never experienced anything like that before," he said. 

Footage of the February 12 incident, captured by highway cameras, later appeared on the news. The driver of the truck reportedly had no serious injuries and the truck was safely recovered without falling off the bridge