Trucker’s body recovered from bridge wreckage

| 8/3/2007

The Minneapolis Fire Department has confirmed that a body was pulled from the wreckage of a badly burned tractor-trailer amidst the rubble that was once the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis.

“I know they removed a victim from the wreckage yesterday,” Minneapolis Fire Department Deputy Chief Jean Kidd told Land Line on Friday, Aug. 3.

Authorities were in the process of notifying the victim’s family, she said.

Five people were confirmed dead at press time including the truck driver, but authorities feared more bodies would be found. The bridge collapsed at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday, and by Thursday morning, the effort had turned from rescue to recovery.

Authorities had first thought as many as 30 people were unaccounted for after approximately 50 vehicles plunged 65 feet into the Mississippi River, but that number was reduced to eight on Thursday.

Some of the most compelling television pictures of the aftermath of the bridge collapse depicted a semi-truck engulfed in flames, but little information has been released about the truck or its driver, except that the truck was a day cab with a trailer bearing a Taystee logo.

“This is obviously a tragedy and our hearts go out to all the victims,” John Hausladen, president of the Minnesota Trucking Association, told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio.

Seventy-nine people were injured in the bridge collapse, including the driver of a UPS truck by the name of Bill Wagner.

Wagner told WCCO-TV that he knew the driver of the Taystee truck and that the two drivers had waved at one another at some point prior to the tragedy.

Hausladen said the trucking fraternity is grieving for the loss of life.

“It’s just so sad to see brethren from our fraternity here die in the line of action, doing what they do so well every day,” Hausladen said. “Of course, our hearts go out to the families who are still waiting for unidentified victims in the river. We’re proud of our rescue folks and they’re doing a great job.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer

Staff writer Reed Black contributed to this story.