DESERT CENTER AP) — A man whose truck crashed when a torrent of gushing floodwater collapsed a Southern California bridge says he doubted he’d survive as rescuers struggled to free him and asphalt fell from overhead.
“From my viewpoint, there was no getting me out anytime soon,” Bryon Castor, 43, told The Desert Sun. “One thought was, ‘Lord, please don’t let me drown.’”
Instead, he prayed that if he was going to die it be swift: A shelf of crumbling asphalt above the car threatened to fall at any moment.
“If you’re going to take me, take me by this up here,” he recalled thinking.
After more than three hours, rescuers freed Castor from the 2004 Chevy Silverado he’d been driving with friend Scott Meyn, 44, on Interstate 10. Castor broke both kneecaps, two ribs and suffered lacerations to his liver. Meyn fractured his sternum.
The July 19th collapse of the Tex Wash Bridge shut traffic in both directions along a busy stretch of Interstate 10 connecting Los Angeles and Phoenix. A 50-mile stretch of the vital interstate partially reopened five days later.
Castor was driving back home with Meyn when his truck crashed into the bridge, apparently just moments after a surge of storm water carved away the soil underneath the structure’s concrete supports.
The impact of the crash crushed part of the vehicle, broke both windshields and left Castor and Meyn dangling over the edge.
Meyn was able to wiggle himself free but Castor was stuck and unable to escape as floodwater rushed in. Meyn worked with good Samaritans who arrived on scene to rescue his friend but were unable.
Meanwhile, rocks from a shelf of asphalt hanging overhead started to crumble.
Choking back tears, Castor recalled how he told Meyn, “You have to look over my kids.” Castor and his wife have eight children.
As more asphalt from the bridge fell and hit the truck, the water inched up to Castor’s waist. When conditions were finally safe, a firefighter used the Jaws of Life to cut open the vehicle and carry Castor out.
Everyone nearby cheered as Castor was pulled out and into an ambulance.
Now recovering, Castor said he has one more wish: He’d like to know the name of the firefighter who rescued him.
“He put his life on the line to save me,” Castor said. “I can’t wait to find out who this guy was.”