Firefighters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., rescued a breast cancer walk participant Saturday after she got stuck on a railroad bridge as it was lifting into the air.
The 55-year-old Dania Beach woman, whose identity was not immediately released, ended up hanging onto the bridge by her hands and feet as it moved into an upright position. Witnesses said she stayed calm as she held on for half an hour, about 22 feet above the train tracks, until her rescue.
It was unclear why she was on the bridge, where pedestrians are not allowed.
Witnesses who saw her hanging onto the bridge between the Riverfront and the historic district Saturday morning posted photos and videos on Twitter and Instagram. Many of those who watched the situation unfold were, like the woman, wearing pink shirts from the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K walk.
“To tell you the truth, honestly I thought it was probably like a stunt or something, it was just that unbelievable. I really didn’t think she honestly was trapped up there at first," said witness Ashanicka Powell, who said she was on the tracks "on the solid side."
Firefighters responded to multiple 911 calls at 10:44 a.m. about the woman, who told firefighters she took part in the cancer walk earlier in the morning, Fort Lauderdale city spokesman Matt Little said in an email.
The people that the woman was with were crying and begging for people to call police for help – and for their friend to hold on, Powell said.
“They harnessed the ladder up against the actual tracks and a firefighter went and got her and we were all clapping, like we were just amazed," Powell said.
A crowd of spectators cheered when firefighters rescued the frightened woman using the 24-foot ladder, Little said. She was not injured.
It's not known why she was on the railroad bridge, Little said. Signs say "No Trespassing, " and there is a pedestrian walkway on the nearby Andrews Avenue bridge.
Witness Philip Glazebrook said he was surprised that she crossed the bridge in the first place because it gives a loud warning before it rises.
“This bridge is controlled from Tallahassee. There’s not a bridge minder here anymore,” Glazebrook said. “So she’s stuck on the bridge and she’s going up. The next thing is, she’s stuck, straddled like Jesus Christ.”
Powell said the woman's tenacity was fitting.
“To me that just helped in the fight for cancer," Powell said. "So many people that are ready to give up the fight and still are hanging in there – that just symbolized that, 'cause she could have let go at any minute and she didn’t.”
First published October 12 2013, 6:38 PM