Video from a witness shows the SUV on the trestle tracks, moving slowly and then suddenly veering off the bridge. The witness called 911 when the vehicle plummeted into the river.
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Emergency crews, including River Rescue and the U.S. Coast Guard, were at the scene within minutes.
After about 45 minutes, a cat swam to shore on Brunot Island. Shortly after, the SUV was found beneath the bridge with Patterson inside.
The cat was resting comfortably Friday. Veterinarians are evaluating stomach wounds.
Hours later, a manager at NRG was walking the grounds and found a dog wet and barking on the shoreline of Brunot Island. Workers at the plant said they believe the dog was also in the crash, but that information was not confirmed by officials.
Dog found on Brunot Island
“Even when I picked the dog up, he was pretty calm. I heard him barking, he couldn't make it up the embankment. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get him back up,” Kevin Panzino, who found the dog, said.
NRG workers are caring for the dog, nicknamed Lucky, at their plant. Other than an eye injury, the dog appeared to be doing well on Friday.
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