It's been five years since the 35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people.
For some of us, the disaster seems much more recent. For others, it feels like it could have been a decade ago. Yet, when Aug. 1 comes around, we will all take time to pause and remember the victims, and likely remember where we were when the bridge fell and the world fixed its eyes on Minneapolis.
The memorial for the victims offered a solemn scene all day long. One rose was left in memory of each of the 13 victims, and flags are flying at half-staff across the state.
Survivors of the collapse gathered at HCMC on Wednesday to participate in Garret Ebling's book signing for his memoir, "Collapsed."
Ebling rode the bridge to the bottom, and he set the set the memories that were recorded as flashing lights on news cameras into a narrative in ink, sharing the details of his survival and recovery.
"I just remember falling. I just remember feeling weightless," he recalled. "I just remember thinking, 'Ride this out.'"
When asked why he chose the hospital as the site for his signing, Ebling told FOX 9 News he chose it because that was where he spent the first month of his recovery.
Stories of the survivors can also be seen in a new photographic exhibit at the Mill City Museum.
'A BRIDGE JUST DOESN'T FALL DOWN'
Sen. Amy Klobuchar summed up the shock of our city's disaster – a shock shared by the nation – when she said, "a bridge just doesn't fall down in the middle of America."
The 35W bridge collapse was a catalyst for a $2.5 billion bridge and road repair project, focusing on 136 bridges determined to have the most serious deficiencies. This week, MnDOT said the state is about half-way toward its goal of repairing or replacing deficient bridges by 2018.
A DATE TO REMEMBER
Gov. Mark Dayton ordered Minnesota flags be flown at half-staff on Aug. 1 to mark the bridge collapse anniversary.
SURVIVORS STILL SUFFER
People who were injured or lost loved ones in the Minneapolis bridge collapse five years ago are still coping with grief, but the 145 survivors of the disaster are moving on with their lives in different ways.
While the world watched the disaster unfold, the lone silver car resting in the river like its own island contained Omar Abuabara, who survived.
"My mom passed away when I was 18, and I grew up Catholic," he recalled. "She was my saint, my little angel. She was there that day. Obviously, my time wasn't done."
Betsy Sathers, who lost her husband of 10 months, is raising two children adopted from Haiti.
Ebling has since married and is now a father, but he says the emotional wounds are still reluctant to heal.
Gary Babineau, who seriously hurt his back, opted against risky surgery to fix it and now manages often excruciating pain.