In a Leap of Faith, Woman Jumps Off 40-Foot Bridge: "I Thought I Was Dead"

Bianca Vera jumped 40 feet into icy water.

ByABC News
February 15, 2011, 8:06 AM

Feb. 15, 2011 — -- Bianca Vera was driving through the winter weather across an icy bridge in Atlanta, Ga., when a driver sideswiped her, knocking her car into the guard rail. When the 22 year old opened her door and saw a truck barreling toward her, she jumped 40 feet into the icy water of Lake Lanier.

"He clips the back of my car and I hit the side guard rail ... and lost control of my car. I get out of my car to see what the damage had been, and when I was going back to the door... I see headlights. That's when I realized that I had to get out of the way. There was a car next to him, it was icy, I knew he couldn't stop. So it was either... gonna hit my car and then hit me or I was gonna jump and take my chances. So that's what I did," said Vera.

As she fell, she heard the truck smash into her car, followed by a series of crashes as more cars piled up.

"I thought I was dead at that point," Vera said.

Vera hit the water, and in immense pain, swam 100 yards to the shore in the dark. She didn't realize it at the time, but she had broken her back in the fall.

"Everything went numb, the water was so cold," Vera said.

Vera screamed, but no one answered.

"I remember swimming and I just, I didn't think I would make it. I remember being in the middle of the water and I could see the cars up there so I started yelling and you know, just yelling, 'Help, please help me.' And nobody would hear me. And I remember thinking, why can't anybody hear me? [I was] just praying that somebody would hear me so I don't have to keep on swimming because I don't think I'll make it. But it wasn't until yesterday that I realized that the only person who needed to hear me was God. And he helped me and he was there, and he was the one who got me to the shore," said Vera, through tears.

The icy swim took nearly an hour. Once on shore, rescuers heard Vera's cries.

"I've never actually been a part of rescuing somebody that has jumped off a bridge. A lot of times those are body recoveries," said a firefighter identified only as Russ.