by Patrice Fletcher, producer, Chicago bureau
Daniele Bora had just completed his first day as an intern with NEED Magazine in Minneapolis, when the 35W bridge collapsed on Wednesday.
In fact, the 26-year-old journalism student from London had been in town less than 24 hours to begin his month long internship. After work, he'd gone to buy a second-hand bicycle, and had just settled down for a beer at the Kitty Club, a local watering hole in the University of Minnesota neighborhood where he lives. He heard the news from others in the bar.
"The journalist in me woke up," he said, despite having no idea where the bridge was or what had actually happened to it.
He soon found out. Bora grabbed his photographic gear, got directions and raced to the site."It was pretty impressive," he said, of the giant, concrete slabs sloping down into the river. But where, he wondered, were the 60 vehicles that had been on the bridge? And then he understood -- they were submerged in the water.
By midnight, Daniele had posted his video to You Tube. By noon, he said, 22,000 viewers had watched the footage, making it the most-watched footage on You Tube that day. (WATCH VIDEO HERE)
"I was completely overwhelmed."
His boss, Stephanie Kinnunen, NEED Magazine's editor, was overwhelmed for another reason. The magazine is a two-minute drive from the bridge. Her employees had just left for the day and she was having trouble reaching them.
"We go over that bridge every day," said the co-founder of the magazine about humanitarian organizations. "I couldn't get a line out, the phone lines were jammed...The boyfriend of my other intern crossed the bridge to pick her up here, and when they returned to the bridge, it was gone."
One employee could not be reached. Kinnunen spent a "long, sleepless night."
This story has a happy ending. The missing employee turned up unharmed around 11 am the next morning. And Daniele Bora's video has found an even wider audience. The footage has been shown by NBC News, msnbc.com, and CNN.
Beginner's luck? No, he says, "more like being in the right place at the right moment."