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Medic responded to Pa. bridge collapse, rescued woman from ravine in his truck

Pittsburgh Paramedic Jon Atkinson praised the EMS providers who responded amidst the challenging conditions


On Monday, cranes lifted the bus that was on a Pittsburgh bridge when it collapsed Friday.

Photo/Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

By Leila Merrill

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Paramedic Jon Atkinson responded in his personal vehicle to the area bridge collapse Friday, WPXI-TV reported.

Rescuers rappelled nearly 150 feet and formed a human chain to reach occupants of a bus that had plummeted when the 50-year-old bridge collapsed.

Atkinson was on the way to the scene when he heard on the radio that first responders were finding the rocky, steep terrain a challenge. He drove into the ravine in his truck and loaded a severely injured woman into the truck bed using a basket to stabilize her.

He praised his fellow EMS providers who were first to arrive.

“To go over that bridge in the condition it was in, it’s unstable, there’s a concern about a secondary collapse — those guys weren’t really at all concerned about it,” Atkinson said. “They grabbed their gear and did some really difficult work.”

On Monday, cranes secured the Port Authority bus and lifted it out of the ravine.

The bridge showed deterioration in a September inspection but not enough to warrant closure, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said Monday.

An investigation into the collapse is ongoing, the Associated Press reported.


A crane lifted the crashed bus on Monday.

Photo/Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press