Stories Emerge of Lives Lost in Bridge Collapse Grim work continues Sunday in Minneapolis. Divers are still searching the Mississippi River for victims of Wednesday's bridge collapse that killed five people. Dozens are recovering from injuries, and several are missing. Meanwhile, stories emerge of the people who lost their lives.
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Stories Emerge of Lives Lost in Bridge Collapse

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Stories Emerge of Lives Lost in Bridge Collapse

Stories Emerge of Lives Lost in Bridge Collapse

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Grim work continues today in Minneapolis. Divers are still searching in the Mississippi River for the remains of victims of the bridge collapse last week that killed five people. There are still dozens recovering from injuries and at least eight people missing from the accident. The event has taken an emotional toll on the people of the Twin Cities especially the friends and families of the victims.

NPR's Rachel Martin has our report.

RACHEL MARTIN: Patrick Holmes loved sports, and by sports I mean baseball. He coached his son's baseball and soccer teams, he worked as an exercise therapist and the 36 year old was a pitcher and outfielder on the same amateur baseball team for 17 years. His teammates called him Homer(ph) and this past Friday night, Homer's team gathered at a high school baseball field in St. Paul to play it's final game of the season.

Before the game, players lined up in front of home plate, hat's off, each of them wearing black armbands sporting Holmes' names and number. Team manager Jack Munich(ph) addressed a small crowd of wives, friends and former teammates.

Mr. JACK MUNICH (Resident, Minnesota): So in memory to Pat Holmes, we're going to retire his jersey, number 21. And I want to ask for a moment of silence after we do that.

MARTIN: Munich took Pat's grey jersey off a hanger and put it in a white box. Another player handed the box to Pat's widow, a small blond woman who cries quietly in the stand.

Pat Holmes was driving home from work on I-35 West last Wednesday when the bridge collapsed. His wife waited and waited for him to come home, but he never did. At 11:30 that night, she and his close friends learned that Pat had died in the bridge disaster. Jack Munich was Pat's teammate for close to 20 years.

Mr. MUNICH: He was sort of the one guy you knew that when you need another fighter, when you need somebody to push people, he'd be the one to come in with that level of intensity. He just sort of try to fire everybody up to get them playing in a higher level. You know, he's a very honest guy. He's very candid. And when he said something to somebody, he meant it and people respect it for it.

MARTIN: Four other people had been confirmed dead. Julia Blackhawk, a cosmetology student and mother of two; Artemio Trinidad-Mena, a Mexican immigrant who support6ed a wife and three kids as a produce salesman; Paul Eickstadt, a 51-year-old truck driver; Sherry Engebretsen, a marketing director with two daughters, and there are still several people missing like Dorothy Svendsen's son, Greg.

Speaking on the phone from her home in the northern part of the state, she describes him as salt of the earth, Minnesota.

Ms. DOROTHY SVENDSEN (Resident, Minnesota): Well, hardworking, jolly Norwegian. He's got red hair and freckles, and his nickname is Jolly(ph). He's a good kid.

MARTIN: Svendsen's son, Greg Jolstad was a construction worker on the bridge. Her daughter-in-law and other family members have been going regularly to the make shift counseling center set up by the Red Cross in a Minneapolis hotel. That's where families of the missing can get the latest information on the investigation and recovery efforts. Svendsen says it hasn't been easy. But she and the rest of her family realize that Greg most likely did not survive.

Ms. Svendsen: There's not much we can do. And we being from the upper mid-west, I think that that's part of our demeanor is not getting all excited about it. We have to just wait.

MARTIN: But most of the people driving on the bridge that day did survive against remarkable odds. Alicia Babatz was one of them. Sitting in her hospital bed, the 22-year-old recounted her story to reporters last week.

Ms. ALICIA BABATZ (Bridge Survivor): I remember falling and just kind of being banged around. I remember being in the car. I remember the water rushing over my head. At that point I though I was going to die. I thought I was going to drown with the car.

MARTIN: But she didn't. Instead, somehow, she broke free from the submerged car and swam toward shore. Barefoot and in pain, she navigated her way across broken ruble and concrete slabs until she reached the rescue teams on the shoreline.

It was a freakish and horrific accident. The kind of catastrophe portrayed in action movies. And while any loss of life is tragic, officials here say it could have been much worse.

The investigation pushes forward. Meanwhile, those affected by this tragedy, try to do the same.

Rachel Martin, NPR News, Minneapolis.

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