Neighbor: Woman's vision may be to blame for being on bridge
Wanda McGowan trapped on Florida East Coast Railway bridge above New River
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The woman who was rescued after she hung from an upright railroad bridge likely couldn't read the "No Trespassing" signs on it, her neighbor told Local 10.
Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) identified the woman as Wanda McGowan, 55, of Dania Beach. Officials said she was crossing the bridge above the New River when it began opening Saturday morning.
"The emergency is there's a woman on the Las Olas bridge. She's stuck on the bridge -- it's up in the air," one caller told emergency dispatchers.
"She has really bad vision. I have bad vision but hers is worse than mine," said Sean, McGowan's neighbor, who declined to give Local 10 his last name. "She said the bridge came up really fast and she didn't really have a lot of time to run."
Sean said McGowan, a cancer survivor, and a few friends participated in a cancer walk earlier in the morning. He said they were on the bridge but McGowan's friends walked ahead of her.
"They were further ahead of her than she was because, like I said, she can't see and she didn't want to trip and bust her face," he said.
McGowan was hanging about 22 feet above the tracks when Fort Lauderdale Firefighter Michael Hughes used a 24-foot ladder to rescue her.
"She said, 'Thank you so much for getting here, I was getting a little tired,'" recalled Hughes. "I told her what I was going to do, I put my arms around her, she turned around, and we proceeded down the ladder together."
Witnesses said it took about 20 minutes for crews to safely bring her down.
A spokesman for FEC said the bridge remains upright unless a train is coming, and only lowers two minutes before and after a train passes through. According to the city of Fort Lauderdale, the FEC can press trespassing charges.
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