Ironworker Tells Story of Survival

Editor's Note: this story was first posted on WTOL.COM on June 24, 2004.

TOLEDO -- A Toledo ironworker, who survived the I-280 truss collapse is telling his story for the first time. On a cold February day, a 2-million-pound launching truss collapsed at the Maumee River Crossing Construction project in east Toledo. 4 ironworkers were killed, and 4 other men were hurt. One of the most critically hurt was 26-year-old Josh Collins. Today, he spoke with News 11's Bob Jones.

Josh says it's still a "day by day" struggle. Josh is out of a wheelchair and using a cane. It takes three titanium plates and 8 screws to keep his neck intact. 11 broken bones in his hips and spine are healing. But, Josh is alive. "I've come along way. I don't believe I should have survived that accident, but God has other plans in store for me," he said.

On a bitterly cold February day, Josh was working on a catwalk near a concrete pier on the I-280 bridge project, when the unthinkable happened. "You know, I felt in my gut there was something wrong and I looked up, and sure enough I see the crane tipping over and at that point I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do," he said.

Josh fell 70 feet to the ground, and was covered in dirt and debris. Amazingly, the huge crane that came tumbling down missed him. Before he was knocked unconscious, Josh remembers thinking about his wife, who was 5 months pregnant with their first child. "I told Jesus to save me and I don't know if I talked to him, but I felt the baby. I felt the baby because that was the biggest thing in my life right then was that kid in my wife's belly," he said.

Josh says it all felt like a nightmare. But, he says it's nothing short of "a miracle" he survived. Josh believes he lived to experience a second miracle that happened this week. On Monday, his wife, Erin, gave birth to a baby boy. "Once I looked at my baby, we both knew it was a Joshua," he said. Baby Joshua Collins was born 8 pounds, 14 ounces. "I couldn't imagine him coming into the world. Joshua coming into the world and Josh not being there," said Erin Collins, Josh's wife.

Joshua's middle name is Michael, named for Michael Moreau, Josh's good friend who died in the truss accident. But these proud parents say they'll have quite a story to tell Joshua when he's older... one of tragedy, triumph, hope and miracles. "That he is the reason, he's still here. It's as simple as that. [Baby Joshua] is the reason [Josh is] still here," said Erin Collins.

"Life isn't so terrible. It can be all right sometimes and I'll tell you, I'm the happiest man in the world right now," said Josh.

Baby Joshua Collins and mom are doing fine. In fact, both of them were released Thursday from The Toledo Hospital.

Collins say once his neck completely heals, he'll start on physical therapy, but he expects to make a full recovery one day. OSHA investigators say they've completed their investigation on I-280 truss accident. They'll release the cause after regional and national offices review the findings.

Posted 7:10pm, Thursday, June 24, 2004 by AEB