POINT PLEASANT– Forty six times the sound of a bell rang through Point Pleasant on Friday as the town remembered the lives lost on a fateful day 50 years ago.
On December 15, 1967 the Silver Bridge collapsed. Beverly Cottrill lost her parents Lillian and Paul Wedge to the tragedy and remembers it as if it were yesterday.
“That day was very hard as it still is,” Cottrill said. “I had been with my mother that day and she left my house and went home and met my dad. They went across the bridge to get a Christmas tree and that is the last time we saw them. It’s hard to explain what goes through your mind in a situation like that. It was hard, it’s still hard.”
But not everyone on the bridge lost their lives. William Edmondson was driving his commercial truck over the bridge as it fell and remembers falling into those cold waters.
“I first thought I was going to drown. Then this thing I had loaded on my truck come up and I held onto it until I floated into a barge. The barge pulled me up onto it and they took me to the bank and called the ambulance to come get me. That’s really what saved my life,” Edmondson remembered.
While that day will always leave a hole in the heart of this small town, it shed a light on bridge safety helping keep the country’s 615,000 bridges like the new silver bridge in Point Pleasant safer which provides some solace to the victim’s families.
“That’s the main thing that came out of them losing their lives, the safety on the bridges was improved. That means a lot,” Cottrill said.
Although the victims can never be brought back, they will continue to live on in spirit in the town of point pleasant and in a way in all of us every time we are able to safely cross a bridge home to our own loved ones.