Cellphone video shows crash survivor swimming to safety

Published On: Jul 25 2013 06:10:51 AM HST

Federal officials will investigate last week's crash on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge as new cellphone video shows the survivor swimming to safety moments after her car plunged off the bridge Friday night.

Morgan Lake was clearly hurting as she hung on to the rocks around a bridge piling. It took her almost a minute until she could actually pull herself out of the water, the video showed.

The video was taken by a Virginia Realtor, Scott Fortney, who said he was three cars behind the tractor-trailer that hit Lake's car, pushing it over the side of the bridge.

Fortney said he saw Lake's car go under water and start filling with water while she was still buckled in. He started recording after she emerged from the water.

"I was thankful to see her get to the rocks so quickly.  She was definitely disoriented," Fortney told 11 News.

Several people on the bridge began talking to Lake, trying to keep her calm.

"Had she not been clinging to the rocks, I think a number of us would have probably jumped in after her. It was only about 30 feet. I could see where the vehicle was. I could see the car underwater. I could see the wheel, it was only about a foot underwater," said Fortney, who put his video on YouTube.

Feds to investigate

Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday evening it will investigate the accident as calls from AAA and U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski grew louder for federal officials to investigate the safety of the Bay Bridge and its restraint systems.  

"It could have been somebody elderly. There could have been babies in that car. It doesn't matter.  You can't fall 40 feet off a bridge after being rear-ended by a truck and think it's OK," Mikulski said.

She and other officials are urging the NTSB to investigate the bridge structure, traffic patterns and whether it meets current federal standards, which require bridge barriers to contain passenger cars during a crash.

The eastbound span -- where Lake's crash occurred Friday night -- opened more than 60 years ago.

The NTSB said Wednesday it will send two investigators from the Office of Highway Safety to Maryland to meet with local authorities about the July 19 crash. Officials said the agency will determine if there are any nationwide safety issues involved.

The Maryland Transportation Authority said it welcomes the federal involvement in its ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of motorists crossing the Bay Bridge.

Images: Car removed after falling from bridge

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