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Couple Ok After 40-Foot Highway Plunge

Sat., Oct. 18, 1997

If you think it’s impossible to drop 40 feet off a highway overpass and live, then keep reading.

Because it happened to two Californians driving through downtown Miami on Friday.

They spent the afternoon at Jackson Memorial Hospital and went on their way, leaving behind their mangled rental car, $100,000 in property damage and dozens of witnesses marveling at the best example of luck they’d ever seen.

“From our standpoint as rescuers, you really expect injuries to be mortal or very severe in something like this,” said Miami Fire Lt. Joe Fernandez. “I would say they’re very fortunate.”

Romerell Jackson was feeling lucky, too. He was supposed to leave work early for his wife’s birthday. He was about to leave, when the Californians’ flying Ford Contour nosedived onto the roof of his Toyota Corolla, flattening it like a pancake.

“If I had gotten out here five minutes sooner, that would have been it,” said Jackson, 34, an environmental lab technician for Metro-Dade. “My family would be missing me right now. Wow, I can’t believe it.”

The demolition derby started on Interstate 95 north-bound near the exit to Southwest Second Street. Police said an unknown motorcyclist cut off a delivery truck driven by Michael J. Messina, 22.

The truck hit the rental car on its right side, causing both vehicles to lose control. Then the truck struck the concrete retaining wall of the elevated highway, knocking out a huge span and sending a torrent of rocks and metal to the ground below.

The car and other debris landed in Municipal Parking Lot No. 14, between Flagler Street and Southwest First Street. Firefighters said it appeared that the rental car flipped and struck Jackson’s Corolla roof-to-roof, helping to lessen the impact. Several other cars were damaged, too.

Paramedics found Bruce Malcolm, 48, the driver of the rental car, up and walking around. They had to cut passenger Gina Campbell, 35, out of her seat belt. She made a “thumbs up” gesture as they immobilized her. “As a matter of fact, she was a little reluctant to go to the hospital,” Fire Lt. Fernandez said.

Messina, driver of the delivery truck, was not injured.


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