A small mixed-breed dog who survived a five-story fall into the Miami River from the Brickell Avenue drawbridge on July 17 has a guardian angel, and his name is David Bernstein.
Horrified witnesses saw the little terrier in the faded red sweater slip off the rising drawbridge and fall into the cold river water on Tuesday night, NBC Miami reports.
One witness, David Bernstein, jumped out of his car and ran onto the bridge to save her. He said she looked into his eyes, but it was too late. He watched helplessly as the 28-pound terrier plunged 30 feet into the river and disappeared. He said he was no more than a foot away but could not reach her and he heard one last yelp as she fell. “I will never forget her face,” he said
Bernstein called 911. An officer and fire-rescue came. He plead with passing boaters to slow down and help in the search. But no one saw the little dog.
Bernstein, 37, said he didn’t sleep all night, sobbing in his one-bedroom apartment at the side of his 2-year-old German shepherd, Branson. He told the Miami-Herald that he could not stop thinking about the little dog and could not forget the moment when her eyes looked into his.
He returned to the bridge on Wednesday and stayed for hours looking at the murky water and the surrounding banks for any sign of her. He begged the bridge operators to help him. He was advised that only one area could be checked; but, since it was fully cemented, it was unlikely the dog would be found alive--especially 12 hours later.
With the help of a caring bridge tender, he scoured the underbelly of the road, Bernstein told Monique Modan of the Miami Herald. And suddenly they saw her on a puddle-filled concrete landing beneath the bridge--the little miracle dog in the pale red sweater, walking in dirty water.
The bridge operators said later it appeared heavy rains had filled the cemented area with water, which broke the dog's fall. Adding to the canine’s good fortune, the area, which is usually kept drained, hadn't been drained for the past few days.
Maintenance worker Albert Diaz, 39, went under the bridge and used a rope and lasso to pull the terrified creature to safety. Her fur was brown from mud and oil.
“I was in shock,” Bernstein said. “This was a miracle, a miracle dog. I hugged her.”
The dog was taken to Brickell Animal Hospital, where she was checked by the medical staff and found to have no broken bones, only some scrapes and bruises.
Damian Torres, a manager at the hospital, said the dog got a bath and is in great condition, considering the ordeal. They named her “Brickell.” She is now a white dog.
“She seems trained,” Torres told the Miami Herald reporter on Thursday. “She listens to commands and is very well behaved. She is a little shaken still but is a happy dog.”
No one has claimed Brickell, so she went home with Good Samaritan David Bernstein on Thursday afternoon.
Bernstein said he can’t keep her because of his big dog and small apartment, and that at least 20 people have indicated they want to adopt her.
“My goal is to get her reunited with her family, only if they are a good family.” And, David said he plans to keep in touch with Brickell, the miracle dog, forever.