Woman drives car onto pedestrian bridge, gets stuck for hours

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I witnessed firsthand; used with permission.

I attended public elementary school in a busy little neighborhood. The front doors of the school led out onto a congested main street, and the back doors led out into a charming courtyard just a few feet away from a pedestrian bridge.

Parents dropped their kids off at the courtyard in the back. It was safer. There was little to no traffic save for the parents who drove their children to school. Most kids walked. Some walked with their parents, and others walked alone.

I was among the children whose parents dropped them off at the back door. My mother always pulled up in her Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and made sure I was safe before driving away.

On the day a woman drove onto the nearby pedestrian bridge in her Volkswagen Beetle and got stuck there for hours, I had a front-row seat from the safety of the courtyard. I watched intently until the teachers ushered us into the school.

I was well acquainted with that pedestrian bridge. It terrified me. Our school teachers occasionally marched us across the bridge to play in the park that lay on the other side of a bustling highway.

The other kids loved it. They would stop halfway across and make a pulling-down motion every time they saw an 18-wheeler approaching. It was a signal to ask the big-rig drivers to blow their horns, and it worked nearly every time.

I can't express how much anxiety it gave me to stand on that pedestrian bridge protected by nothing but chicken wire as 18-wheelers blew their horns directly beneath my feet. I could feel the sound in every bone in my body.

On the day the woman with the Volkswagen mistook the pedestrian bridge for a shortcut, I watched fascinated as she approached the narrow bridge and gently eased her car over the curb onto the catwalk.

Surely she would realize her mistake, or so I thought. Even I, an elementary school student with less common sense than God had given a chicken, could see she didn't belong there.

The woman was determined even as the bridge narrowed on both sides. She advanced as far as she could before stopping. The little car was stuck fast.

Poor thing. She didn't make it very far before getting stuck and unable to go farther. And somehow, she had wedged her car so tightly into the pedestrian bridge that she could not reverse either.

A crowd of adults gathered, and unfortunately, that was the last I saw of it before I had to enter the school building and get to class. Every chance I got, I peeked out the window to see whether the lady had made progress.

She hadn't.

When school let out at 2:15 p.m., she was still there. The crowd had grown larger. And there were police cars and a fire truck involved.

The next morning when I arrived at school, everything was back to normal.

I wonder if anyone else remembers the Volkswagen lady and her little snafu. I know I'll never forget it.

Have you ever seen anything like that happen? Comments are welcome.

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