WASHINGTON – Dramatic footage taken moments after a crash on the Bay Bridge sent a car into the water shows the woman who survived the fall clinging to rocks and waiting for help.
WTOP listener Scott Fortney says he was three cars behind Morgan Lake’s Chrysler Sebring on Friday before Lake’s car was struck by a tractor-trailer and knocked into the Chesapeake Bay 40 feet below.
Lake, a 22-year-old College of Southern Maryland student, was able to get out of her car, swim to some rocks and wait for help.
“It was a very harrowing experience. A lot of people up on deck were more or less in hysterics,” Fortney said of the witnesses on the bridge. “It was eerie to see her down there on the rocks clinging for her life and eventually making it to safety.”
Fortney says his footage was taken after Lake emerged from under the water. In the video, Lake identifies herself to onlookers and tells them no one else was with her. She is told to hang on and that help is on the way, and also appears to ask about calling her mother.
Lake was talking with a “good Samaritan” who was on the bridge, Fortney says. Another witness on the bridge called Lake’s mother and let her know her daughter was safe.
“I thought to myself, ‘If I were down there on the rocks, I would want a good Samaritan talking me through it,'” Fortney said.
The bridge bystanders could see the wheel of Lake’s car, so they knew the water couldn’t have been more than 10 feet deep.
“Had this happened five or 10 or 20 seconds later, this woman would have gone off in much deeper water without riprap,” he said. “Had we been in deeper water, not only would that vehicle have plummeted further down below, but she may not have had riprap to hang on to and climb to safety.
“Therefore, without a life jacket, she could have been in real trouble.”
On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board announced it would be sending investigators in the aftermath of the crash to look into whether federal standards nationwide need to be addressed regarding bridge safety.
See the footage from Fortney below:
This story has been corrected to delete a statement saying the NTSB would be looking into the crash itself.
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