Not your average commute
February 12, 2012 1:50 PM   Subscribe

On February 22, [2011], 13 [bus passengers] were crushed by an unreinforced brick building at 603-13 Colombo St. I broke half a dozen bones or so, severed a tendon, spent two months in hospital and six months off work. And I was lucky. Twelve people died. I did not know them, but they forever travel with me.
Just after midday, North Carolina native and political scientist Ann Brower boarded the no. 3 bus to Canterbury University. Shortly afterwards, falling masonry from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake trapped her and the other passengers in the bus. She was the sole survivor. Now, nearly a year later, she describes her rescue and her recovery.

Additional links: Brower giving evidence at the Royal Commission into the earthquake earlier this year. A statement by one of her rescuers, the injured driver on the bus behind hers. An earlier interview, conducted in the days following the earthquake. Youtube footage: [1]; [2], taken while Brower was still trapped; [3], the scene after the evacuations were over.
posted by Sonny Jim (7 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
She sounds like a neat lady, and I'm glad she's still with us.
posted by Malor at 2:01 PM on February 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

I smiled at her comments about her flashbacks. That must make her rescuer feel very good.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 2:12 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another interview with more details, this time from the Pomona College Magazine.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:57 PM on February 12, 2012

A sentence in that Pomona magazine caught my eye:

She can’t help but notice who came to her aid--and who didn’t. “It was the people in suits who just walked on by,” she says. Even friends later acknowledged that they had done nothing to assist the victims, believing that rescue workers would have the recovery efforts well in hand. Laments Brower: “If everyone were in my white collar class, you know I might still be on that bus.”

In far, far less serious situations, like breaking down on the side of the road, I've had the same experience. The guy driving the beat up old truck will stop to help, but rarely the person in the new BMW.
posted by Forktine at 3:25 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

When I think of February 22, all I see is my rescuers. And I smile. It's a wet and salty smile, but a smile all the same.

Just a bit of dirt in my eye, that's all.
posted by Fizz at 3:25 PM on February 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

what a resilient woman
posted by mlo at 7:19 PM on February 12, 2012

The guy driving the beat up old truck will stop to help, but rarely the person in the new BMW.

I'm not sure we can verify what may simply be confirmation bias, but this was considered the gung-ho narrative of choice by the media following the 1989 Bay Area earthquake that "pancaked" the Nimitz Freeway, a route frequented by many commuters to and from more affluent suburbs that passed through a decrepit West Oakland neighborhood including a housing project. An immediate response from residents and workers in the neighborhood outpaced the emergency services in getting to many trapped victims. This work, later augmented by professional search and rescue responders and heavy equipment suited for the task, continued for days.
posted by dhartung at 1:17 AM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

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