For Minnesotans, Baltimore bridge collapse brings back memories of I-35W disaster

An aerial view shows the collapsed I-35W
An aerial view shows the wreckage of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis on Aug. 4, 2007, three days after the bridge collapsed.
Mandel Ngan | AFP, Getty Images

Updated: 6:05 p.m.

For some Minnesotans, Tuesday’s collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore brought back memories of the tragic, deadly collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis back in 2007.

The Baltimore bridge collapsed into a river after it was hit by a container ship. Of the people who fell into the river, two were rescued and six were unaccounted for as of Tuesday afternoon, according to officials.

The circumstances are very different — but scenes of the wreckage and the water search for survivors in Baltimore bear some similarities to what happened in the Twin Cities on Aug. 1, 2007.

“I immediately kind of went into their shoes in a way that a lot of people probably can’t imagine,” said Lindsay Walz, who survived a fall into the Mississippi River from the I-35W bridge more than 16 years ago.

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“As I saw the bridge collapsing, I felt that fall in my body and then I also felt the pressure of the water that my body felt on August 1st against my body, like my body just remembers those things in this very challenging way,” she said.

“The reality is that the six people that are still unaccounted for, their families, everyone who knew them and was impacted by them will have a long road ahead,” Walz said.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Tuesday morning posted on social media: “This morning Baltimore woke up to a bridge collapse, a tragedy we know all too well in Minneapolis. As the city responds to this emergency, my thoughts are with the people of Baltimore. Minneapolis stands with you.”

Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar noted all those who rushed to help when the I-35W bridge fell, and said in a social media post she’s “thankful for the Coast Guard and all the first responders.”

And Minnesota U.S. Sen. Tina Smith on social media noted how “this bridge collapse brings back tough memories for Minnesotans.”

“One of the hardest days of all my time in public service was when the I-35W bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River,” Smith wrote. “My thoughts are with Baltimore and the loved ones of anyone still missing.”

The Minnesota Department of Transportation said it’s offered assistance to Maryland transportation officials if they need it. The agency said it will be lighting the I-35W bridge in the colors of the Maryland state flag on Tuesday night in a show of support.