August 13, 2007 in Nation/World

Divers retrieve body of ninth bridge victim

Martiga Lohn Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Workers remove a school bus from the collapsed bridge on Sunday. All 52 children aboard survived the accident.Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

MINNEAPOLIS – Divers found another body in the Mississippi River on Sunday, 11 days after a highway bridge collapsed into the fast-flowing water, raising the official death toll to nine.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the body as 20-year-old Richard Chit, of St. Anthony. His mother, 50-year-old Vera Peck, of Bloomington, is still missing.

The other three people known to be missing are Christine Sacorafas, 45, of White Bear Lake; Greg Jolstad, 45, of Mora; and Scott Sathers, 29, of Maple Grove.

As divers resumed their search Sunday, a crane removed a school bus and other vehicles from one end of the ruined span.

The bus became a symbol of a disaster that could have been worse. Everyone on board – 52 children and several adults – escaped alive.

One of the bus survivors, Julie Graves, had been accompanying children on a trip to a water park the day the bridge collapsed.

On Sunday, her feet were in casts, and tight wraps on her arms locked her elbows. She has been in a back brace after surgery to repair two broken lumbar vertebrae last week, but is expected to make a full recovery.

In all, 44 vehicles have been removed from the bridge since its collapse. About 100 people were injured in the collapse, but only eight remained hospitalized, their conditions ranging from serious to good.

Graves, who celebrated her 28th birthday at the hospital Friday, expects to remain at the hospital for up to two weeks.

She had planned to get married at the end of the month, and she said she still may exchange vows, but the wedding celebration has been pushed back to May “so I can be in full dancing condition.”

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