ALLEN PARK — Matthew Stafford was driving one of the first cars to approach a bridge that had collapsed over the Southfield Freeway about 5:50 a.m. on Friday.
“You don’t expect to see that when you’re driving to work, but I’m sure there were people closer than I was,’’ the Lions quarterback said after practice.
A trash hauler heading north had hit the Cathedral Street pedestrian bridge. When it collapse it blocked traffic north- and south-bound. The driver was killed.
“I was probably, I would assume two to three minutes behind it. When I was pulling up there were a few people sneaking through the underpass on the shoulder,’’ Stafford said.
“Soon after the police came from behind me, I turned over (to the shoulder) to let them do their thing. They cut everybody off after that and ran over to him (the driver), and I hung out,’’ Stafford said.
Stafford contacted Elton Moore, the Lions’ director of security, asking, “You got any options?’’ and he figured something out.
Moore got to the service drive near the incident, found Stafford and gave him his car keys so Stafford could get to work. Moore stayed with Stafford’s Range Rover and eventually drove it to the practice facility which is a few miles south of the incident.
Moore said as they were walking away, people were shaking their heads at the scene on the freeway and a few of them recognized Stafford.
That’s a normal time for Stafford to be driving to the facility where he works out or studies game film in the early morning hours. His parents, who live in Texas, texted him when they heard the news and wanted to make sure he was OK.
Coach Jim Caldwell had passed through that stretch 15-20 minutes before the collapse.