05/24/2013 10:21 EDT | Updated 07/24/2013 05:12 EDT

UBC Student Recounts Surviving Washington Bridge Collapse

A UBC student says he's happy to be alive after the Skagit River Bridge collapsed beneath him on Thursday night.

Mount Vernon, Wash., resident Bryce Kenning says he was making a trip he had made hundreds of times without incident. But this time was different.

"You never expect anything like that to happen in real life, it was like a movie event," said Kenning in an interview with Stephen Quinn, the host of CBC Radio's On the Coast.

"All of a sudden, I'm halfway across the bridge, when I see this explosion in front of me and the roadway is just gone, and I launched right off the end of the bridge and did a straight nose dive into the water."

Kenning, who was heading to Bellingham to play drop-in hockey, said the explosion he witnessed was a massive cloud of dust and debris caused by the bridge collapse.

"A falling bridge in front of you, you think you're dreaming when you fly off of that," he said.

Car filled with water

After plunging into the river, Kenning said, his Subaru wagon started to fill up with water immediately.

"That was when you think maybe you're not going to make it to see another day," said Kenning.

With the driver's side door and the windshield completely submerged, the UBC student's only hope was the passenger side of the vehicle.

"I went right to the passenger door, pried on the handle and kicked out as hard as I could and luckily the force was enough to open it against the pressure of the Skagit River."

When Kenning emerged from the vehicle, he said, he was able to climb on top of his car for refuge. He waited for rescue until a sheriff's boat was able to reach him.

Only minor injuries

Kenning said he was extremely surprised and lucky to have suffered minor injuries. He has been diagnosed with a concussion and is suffering from a stiff neck.

"Walking out of a drop like that and a vehicle into the water, it's a miracle that I'm not injured," said Kenning.

Approximately 70,000 vehicles each day cross the Skagit River Bridge, located along Interstate 5.

Authorities said the bridge collapsed when a semi-truck carrying an over-sized load clipped an upper part of the bridge span.

The closure of the north side of the bridge has caused massive traffic delays heading into the U.S. Memorial Day long weekend.

CBC Radio One's On the Coast, hosted by Stephen Quinn, is on the air every weekday between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. PT in Vancouver.

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