In Minneapolis, "The Lucky Ones"

(CBS)
Tracy Smith is a CBS News correspondent based in New York.
I was in Des Moines, Iowa for some political stories when the bridge in Minneapolis collapsed and, like most everyone, I first saw those horrible pictures on TV. A producer, crew and I got in our cars and started driving, and made it there just a little before 1 am Minneapolis time. That night was spent interviewing witnesses, talking to families who were waiting for word on missing loved ones. It seemed everyone we spoke to was grieving or in shock.

Then yesterday I met Martha Roberson. She had all those same emotions in the hours after the collapse. She told me she honestly thought she'd lost her two granddaughters forever.

But by some twist of fate, and with the help of some courageous friends and strangers, Martha was one of the lucky ones. Her granddaughters were on the bus that had just crossed the bridge when it collapsed. The girls -- Samara, who's 6, and 4-year-old Josette -- had a few bumps, but were OK. All of the 61 people on that bus, full of summer campers headed back from a trip to a waterpark, survived.

Jeremy Hernandez, one of the camp counselors who'd helped get the kids to safety was wondering aloud yesterday, trying to figure out not just how but why they narrowly escaped. "Lucky" was how he described it. Another survivor I talked to, Gary Babineau, was also wrestling with that. "I guess it just wasn't my time," he said. He's about to become a new dad: his baby's due in 2 weeks.

I can't explain it. But I sure am grateful I got to tell those stories too.

  • Tracy Smith

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