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‘I could just feel it’: PAT bus driver says he knew Pittsburgh bridge was collapsing beneath him

PITTSBURGH — When Channel 11′s Gabriella DeLuca asked Port Authority bus driver Daryl Luciani if he thought it was a miracle that he and the passengers on his bus were alive, he responded, “I would say so, yes. Honestly.”

Luciani was driving the bus when the Fern Hollow bridge collapsed. He told Channel 11 he wasn’t scheduled to be working Friday, but picked up an extra shift to get some overtime.

As soon as he got to safety, he made a phone call.

>>PHOTOS: Bridge collapse in Pittsburgh

“I had a little phone call with my wife, and I told her I loved her,” Luciani said.

He said he could feel the bridge collapsing.

“As I was driving it, I knew in my mind, the bridge was collapsing. I could feel it. The bus was bouncing and shaking,” he added.

He and two passengers were on board the bus.

“I was more concerned with getting the people off the bus, because I wasn’t sure where the bus was sitting, or if it was going to slide backwards. That was my main concern,” Luciani said.

>>LIVE UPDATES: 10 minorly hurt in bridge collapse that sent cars, bus into ravine in Pittsburgh

Luciani was in good spirits when he talked with Channel 11′s Gabriella DeLuca, despite feeling “banged up.” He said everything happened so fast.

The bus was somehow resting against the bridge, and rescue crews were able to help Luciani and the two passengers to safety.

“They came down with the flashlights. They had to walk down to get us. Somehow they climbed up to us, I don’t know how. They brought a rope over to our door and tied it to the railing. It was icy, and they were able to get the passengers off and myself. They brought a ladder over to us, and we climbed down the ladder, and walked up the woods to Forbes,” he said.

Hours after the bridge collapse, Luciani went to Jefferson Hospital as a precaution. Physically, he told us he felt “banged up,” but emotionally, he’s grateful to be alive.

“I’m very thankful to be safe and alive. It could have been a lot worse.”

Luciani said he has been driving for Port Authority for nearly a decade, and he has been over the Fern Hollow bridge hundreds of times.