Divers find ninth body at site of Minn. bridge collapse

Monday, August 13, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS -- Divers found another body in the Mississippi River on Sunday, 11 days after a highway bridge collapsed into the fast-flowing water, raising the official death toll to nine.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office identified the body as 20-year-old Richard Chit of St. Anthony. His mother, 50-year-old Vera Peck of Bloomington, is still missing.

The other three people known to be missing are Christine Sacorafas, 45, of White Bear Lake; Greg Jolstad, 45, of Mora; and Scott Sathers, 29, of Maple Grove.

As divers resumed their search Sunday, a crane removed a school bus and other vehicles from one end of the ruined span.

The yellow school bus became a symbol of a disaster that could have been worse. Everyone on board -- 52 children and several adults -- escaped alive.

One of the bus survivors, Julie Graves, had been accompanying children from a neighborhood center in Minneapolis on a trip to a water park the day the bridge collapsed.

On Sunday, her feet were in casts and tight wraps on her arms locked her elbows. She has been in a back brace after surgery to repair two broken lumbar vertebrae last week, but is expected to make a full recovery.

"I'm doing good," Graves said by phone Sunday from Hennepin County Medical Center. "Some pain here and there definitely. But I'm so grateful to be alive."

In all, 44 vehicles have been removed from the bridge since its collapse. About 100 vehicles had been on the structure when it fell on Aug. 1, said Minnesota Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Gutknecht.

About 100 people were injured in the collapse, but only eight remained hospitalized, their conditions ranging from serious to good. Hennepin County Medical Center released one patient and upgraded another from serious to satisfactory condition, a spokeswoman said Sunday.

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