Mom narrates how she survived crash that caused her truck to hang over the Ohio River for almost an hour

Dollita Okine May 21, 2024
Even though Thomas has spent a little more than two months recovering from the tragedy with the support of her family and her 5-year-old son, Mason, she still noted that it is still not easy for her to look at the bridge. Photo: LOUISVILLE METRO POLICE DEPARTMENT/FACEBOOK

Sydney Thomas believed she was nearing the end of her life as she was suspended over the Ohio River for almost an hour following a horrific accident.

“Sometimes you pray, and I’m guilty of this; I pray, and I don’t think God is listening,” she told WHAS11 emotionally. “But he was that day.”

Even though Thomas has spent a little more than two months recovering from the tragedy with the support of her family and her 5-year-old son, Mason, she still noted that it is still not easy for her to look at the bridge.

According to WHAS11, the incident occurred on March 1 while Thomas was running late with her deliveries in her second year of driving for Sysco. Semi-truck driver Thomas followed a company-approved route over the Clark Memorial Bridge in downtown Louisville to arrive on time for her next stop.

However, dashcam footage from inside the semi’s cab captured a pickup truck swerving out of its lane to avoid colliding with a stranded electric vehicle on the bridge and hitting Thomas in mere seconds. All she could do, according to her, was brace herself as the steering on her truck went out. 

Thomas explained that if a truck driver is ever involved in an accident, they are trained to continue driving straight ahead. So, with only seconds to respond, her truck slammed through the bridge railing, leaving Thomas hanging over 100 feet over the Ohio River.

“When I went through the railing, I was like, ‘Wow, this is a crazy way to die. I really thought I was going to die,” she remarked.

She started outlining her alternatives as she dangled over the river, ready to do whatever it took to survive. Despite her inability to swim, Thomas stated that she would not die sitting in the semi-cab. The trailer had already slid off the bridge and was now suspended from the edge.

During that moment, she remembered thinking of her 5-year-old son, Mason. She stated, “It was really hard for me to think about leaving him behind on Earth.”

Her situation attracted the attention of other motorists who stopped after noticing her, one of whom talked to her until the firefighters arrived. Once word spread about her plight, her family and friends started phoning, but she was unable to answer because her phone had fallen to the floor. Her military training had taken over around this time, and she was unwilling to budge. Her foot was pressed against the air brake and her hands gripped the steering wheel.

Shortly afterward, scores of emergency responders gathered and began attempting to get Thomas out of the cab by sending one firefighter down with a big crane extended over the edge of the bridge to catch her and lift her back up.

Before Louisville firefighter Bryce Carden showed up at her driver’s side window, the courageous mother had been hanging over the river for about forty minutes.

“He was like, ‘Are you a praying woman?’” she remembered. “And we just started praying. I just kept crying out to God, ‘Please Lord, just give me another chance,’”

Finally, she let go of the brake pedal after Carden had secured her through the window and reassured her as the vehicle crashed with a loud bang as firefighters lowered a harness from the bridge.

She said, “I knew I wouldn’t fall out of the harness. I knew I wasn’t going to fall out, but it was terrifying to be that high up in the air and all you see is the Ohio River. It was hard, so I tried to keep my head up and not look down.” After around five minutes, they were back on the bridge in a moment of relief. 

Thomas recently reunited with Carden to express her appreciation. She said of him, “He is a really kind person and brave, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I admire him a lot, and I appreciate him and his wife are very kind people.”

Marc Thomas, her father and a veteran semi-truck driver, claimed that God was unquestionably keeping an eye on his daughter that day.

He said, “It didn’t really hit me until I looked over to my right [while crossing the Kennedy Bridge] and I’d seen that equipment hanging into the air. That [rescue] was nothing but God displaying himself to me.”

Trevor Branham, 33, who caused the crash, has been identified and apprehended by police. Witnesses informed police that he was swerving in and out of traffic before the accident. In addition to driving with a suspended license, he is facing several counts of wanton endangerment.

Thomas said that although she feels that Branham is fairly charged, she still forgives him for the pain she endured.

She said, “I can’t hold no hate in my heart. We all make mistakes and me holding a grudge or being angry for the rest of my life at him is going to do nothing for me.”

Still, Thomas admitted that there are times when it is difficult, and the anxiety and panic return. “I have my moments, but God has me here for a reason. I have to fulfill my purpose in life, and I can’t let something like that stop me from doing what I’m supposed to be doing for Him. He brought me out it, He doesn’t want me to live in fear the rest of my life, and I know that,” she stated.

The 26-year-old announced that she will never again cross the Clark Memorial Bridge, better known as the Second Street Bridge, when she does get back behind the wheel in June. And she has no plans of driving another semi-truck soon.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 21, 2024

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