Watch CBS News

Driver rescued after crashed semi dangles off Louisville bridge: "She was praying"

Driver rescued as truck dangles off bridge
Driver rescued after wreck leaves big-rig dangling off Louisville bridge 02:04

Louisville firefighters made a dramatic rescue of a driver on Friday after her semi-truck crashed off the side of Clark Memorial Bridge. 

The multi-vehicle crash happened shortly after noon, CBS affiliate WLKY reported. The Louisville Metro Police Department said that two passenger vehicles, a pickup truck, and a commercial semi-tractor trailer were involved in the crash. Two patients from one of the vehicles involved in this collision were transported to the hospital with injuries that were serious and appeared to be life-threatening, police said.

Both sides of the bridge were closed as firefighters and EMS workers cordoned off the areas to set up the rescue. Firefighters used an aerial ladder and rigged up a pulley system and a safety rope for the driver. Images from the scene show rescuers pulling the trapped driver to safety from the dangling Sysco semi-cab.

Louisville Fire Chief Brian O'Neill said there were about 30 firefighters on the scene along with EMS workers and rescuers to assist with the driver, and first responders "were able to talk to her once we got to the bridge. We could see her. We could talk to her."

Louisville firefighters rescue a driver from a semi-cab that crashed and was dangling over a bridge. Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg

Once the ropes were in place, Louisville firefighter Bryce Carden, who said during a news conference that he had trained for these rescues "more than 100 times," was lowered over the side of the bridge towards the dangling semi-cab, adding that he "trusted the guys on the top side," and things slowed down as he went over. He said he knew the movements and it felt good to put his training "into action."

Carden said as he reached the driver, whose identity has not been released, "she was praying, she was praying a lot and I prayed with her – so that was good." He said she kept thanking God and Carden told her to "take a deep breath" because he needed her to assist him in getting into the rescue harness. 

The rope system then pulled Carden and the driver up the side of the bridge to safety. Video footage shows the pair swinging in the air as they were slowly pulled out of the cab toward the bridge. They were safely back on the bridge at 12:45 p.m. The driver is in stable condition but was transported to the local hospital, said O'Neill.

"These were some serious heroes today," he said.

In a news briefing Saturday, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said that a preliminary police investigation revealed that the chain-reaction crash occurred when a vehicle that was traveling south across the bridge slammed into another vehicle which was stalled in the far right lane.

"After impact, the driver of that vehicle lost control, and crossed into the northbound lane, where that vehicle struck the semi-truck, which was traveling north," Greenberg explained.

The impact sent the big-rig careening through the guardrail.

The driver of the vehicle which struck the semi-truck remains hospitalized with serious injuries, Greenberg said.

There are no cameras on the bridge, so there is no video of the collision, Greenberg also disclosed.

The bridge was expected to reopen by Saturday night, Greenberg said, and the crash did not effect the structural integrity of the bridge. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.