FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — It’s a frightening place to get stuck, on a railroad bridge.
On Saturday, Wanda McGowan was trapped on the Florida East Coast Railroad bridge over the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
“The bridge is going up and a woman is standing on it,” said one person who called 911. “A bridge is opening up and we got a lady caught,” said another caller. “Someone has to contact them and tell them they have to bring the bridge down now,” he continued, “I don’t know how much longer she’s going to be able to hold on!”
McGowan was dressed in all pink, downtown for a breast cancer awareness walk along with thousands of other people. Witnesses said a train just passed and a bunch of people walked onto the bridge together. “After the train went through,” said witness Kenneth Cerny, “I saw about 60-70 of the walker walking out on the tracks. I didn’t realize someone was on the bridge part when it went up.”
Cerny said, for some reason, when the bridge started to go up, McGowan stayed on and hung on for dear life, for about 20 minutes, until firefighter Michael Hughes arrived, with a really tall ladder.
In no time, Hughes made it up to McGowan and prepared her to come down.
“I got to the top of the ladder,” Hughes said, “put my arms around her and straddled her with my arms, she turned around, placed her feet on the rungs. I said this is what we’re going to do, ‘climb down the ladder together. I have you. Don’t worry about it,’ that’s it.”
To a cheering crowd, McGowan and Hughes came down, very carefully, one rung at a time.
Friends tell us they couldn’t believe when they saw Wanda on the news. In fact, the video’s made it around the world. They said she told them she never heard an alarm, indicating the bridge was going up.
The FEC Railroad Company is still investigating the whole thing. McGowan could be charged with trespassing.