Friday, August 03, 2007

Catastrophe comes home

That red car belongs to my former co-worker, Garrett Ebling.

He is one of the scores of people injured in the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis on Wednesday. He lived, but he's critically injured and will undergo surgery on Friday at the Hennepin County Medical Center.

I know the moment when we found out. I sit right next to our managing editor's office. She was on the phone and I heard her let out a loud gasp. This isn't unusual; she's a very exuberant person who laughs loudly, too. But each time I hear a noise like that, I hope everything's OK.

This time it wasn't. Ten minutes later, she was explaining this to our sports editor, who sits right across from me. I didn't pretend to hide my concern and afterwards, I immediately set to e-mailing former colleagues to tell them the news.

Garrett worked with us in various capacities on the newsside. After his final assignment here, as editor of one of our weeklies, he took a job back in his native Minnesota. He was out in the country, I believe, but he got considerably closer to his beloved Twins and Vikings.

We're still not sure why he was on the bridge when he was - we can only guess he was headed to see the Twins - but it's a miracle that he lived. Hell, when you think about it, it's a miracle that so many people survived.

That picture is haunting in some ways, affirming in others.

It's haunting to know that that car carried someone I call a friend. It's haunting to see it framed by such unwieldy, twisted metal. It's haunting to know that someone I know is at the center of the biggest story in the country.

But it's life affirming too: That car is on the precipice of disaster. A few more feet forward, and the car's completely underwater and maybe he becomes one of the casualties. I can't help but think were it not for the hand of God, I'd be a lot more sad than I am right now.

Get well, Garrett. We're all pulling for you.