Woman's drawbridge rescue terrifies Fort Lauderdale onlookers

October 14, 2013 (FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.)

In a pink shirt after a breast cancer awareness walk in Fort Lauderdale, still holding her purse, the woman, 55, was holding on -- trapped on an upright railroad drawbridge.

Below her was the New River. And any sudden move could send her right into it. The woman said she used to take rock climbing classes -- lessons she used Saturday.

"They were just telling her to stay on the bridge and hold on, and not to jump, not to lock her knees," one man said.

Witnesses say she began crossing the bridge while warning sirens rang, and before she could make it across, the bridge began to rise. As the bridge rose higher into the air, the woman began to press her back up against it, clinging for dear life.

"It was really upsetting. People here were crying, people were really concerned," said one woman.

She wasn't supposed to be on the train tracks - an area closed to pedestrians. Her son said she's legally blind and couldn't see the "no trespassing" sign. v The bridge operator couldn't see her either, because that person works 400 miles away. The bridge is operated remotely from Tallahassee.

The woman, who police haven't named, held on long enough for firefighters to save her life with a 24-foot ladder. People below cheered her on.

Her ordeal lasted about 20 minutes, and she came out unscathed.

"To tell you the truth, honestly I thought it was probably like a stunt or something, it was just that unbelievable. I really didn't think she honestly was trapped up there at first," Ashanicka Powell told WTVJ. "They harnessed the ladder up against the actual tracks and a firefighter went and got her and we were all clapping, like we were just amazed."

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