Dan Sligh and his wife were headed for a Memorial Day camping trip yesterday evening when the Interstate 5 bridge over Washington's Skagit River collapsed ahead of his Ram pickup. Sligh said he saw a big puff of dust after a tractor trailer struck a portion of the bridge, and the roadway quickly vanished into the river below. While he applied the brakes, the momentum of his truck and trailer propelled the couple right over the edge. While speaking with reporters, Sligh said he held on as tight as he could before seeing a white flash and feeling the cold water of the river rush into the cab.
The impact dislocated the Navy veteran's shoulder, but he was able to push it back into place in time to pull his wife from the wreckage. Early reports say the collapse occurred when a tractor trailer struck the bridge's overhead girders. One other individual fell into the water, but no one was killed in the ordeal. Federal inspectors had previously rated the structure "functionally deficient."
The bridge, near Seattle, carries around 77,000 vehicles per day and was built in 1955. Interestingly enough, the bridge's "functionally deficient" rating doesn't necessarily mean that the span was deemed unsafe, just that that portions of it required monitoring or repair. You can watch Sligh's CNN interview below.