NEW MARKET, Md. - “I probably have a head injury, I have a spine injury, pelvic fracture, and I’m thinking of all the things that I know from my training from what people have when they fall and I just knew to lay still and wait,” said Angela Weir.
This shock trauma nurse fell about 70 feet off of a bridge Wednesday morning after she rushed in to help at a fiery crash that occurred on a highway in Maryland.
Weir arrived at University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore after being transported by helicopter just before 7 a.m., which is ironically the time she was scheduled to be there for her work shift.
“During the fall, I just accepted that I was going to die and I have never had that feeling before in my life,” said Angela Weir.
Yet just hours later, she is recovering at home surrounded by friends and family.
It all started at around 4:40 a.m. when she and her husband were on their way to the gym heading west on Interstate 70 in Frederick County when they saw a fireball ahead. A tractor trailer had collided with a dump truck that caused it to be jackknifed.
Weir’s husband pulled over to call 911 while she jumped out to help.
“I stopped because I realized that the one truck could be a fuel truck and there was a fire,” she said. “I just thought for a second of what I could do and I could see that there was probably somebody still in the other truck and I wanted to see if I could help them.”
Weir decided to hop over the Jersey wall to use it as a barrier in case the tractor trailer exploded. But in the darkness, she didn't realize that they were actually on a bridge. Instead of the eastbound shoulder, there was a gap between her and the opposing traffic. She ended up plummeting into the tree-lined Monocacy River.
“I just thought this is it and I can't believe this is how I'm going out, but it was enough time to think about that,” said Weir. “I don't remember the impact, but I remember being in the water and thinking that I had to swim and I remember realizing that I could swim so that was good.”
After assessing the fact that she could swim, she knew her spinal cord was not severed. This knowledge came automatically to the 13-year veteran shock trauma nurse.
“It was black and there was smoke and fire,” she described. “It was so hard to see anything and I finally saw a tree and I swam toward the tree. Then my knees hit mud.”
Weir climbed onto the embankment and was lying next to the muddy water underneath the highway as the sun came up. A first responder made his way down a treacherous slope to reach her.
“They were trying to bring a boat in, and actually downstream from where I was, the boat got stuck because the water was so shallow,” Weir said.
Crews had to lower a basket to lift her up the embankment and get her to the medevac. The team at shock trauma were equally stunned that their colleague had survived with just bruises and some minor fractures.
At the Weir household, her loved ones chose to embrace and laugh rather than dwell on what so easily could have been much worse.
“It wasn't my time and God knew that,” Weir said. “I have been thanking God all day long.”
Thankfully, she fell in an area where the water was deep enough and the current wasn't too strong.
As for the truck drivers involved in the crash, one was treated at a local hospital while the other was also flown to shock trauma. Both are expected to be okay.
The crash remains under investigation.