MONTREAL - Ludovic Boland and his friend Sylvain Smith were happy to be alive Friday.

The duo had just driven under the overpass on Papineau at St. Gregoire when they were hit by a hard object, eight by eight inches, which smashed through the car's windshield on Thursday afternoon at 4:20 p.m.

"It just went like pshhhhh, it hit really hard. There was glass all over the place and we didn't know what was happening," said Sylvain Smith.

"I stopped and looked at Ludovic and he was bleeding and he said, ‘we got hit by a rock,'" said Smith, who was driving.

The rock was embedded with metal wire, so Smith assumed it had fallen from the concrete overpass above.

"You look around, you see you're full of blood but you're alive and that's the most important thing," said Boland, who is in Montreal temporarily from Belgium.

The two had been discussing the city's failing infrastructure just prior to the mishap.

"I was telling him of all the bad luck that has happened in Montreal," said Smith. "Ludovic was looking at a bridge and said, ‘we might as well go as fast as we can under them.' It happened only 15 minutes afterwards."

Ludovic Boland had his arms crossed, which he feels shielded his chest from more serious damage.

Initial fears that the concrete was a result of another roof collapse, such as that which took place in the Viger Tunnel, were allayed after inspection.

"The concrete does not come for the overpass," said police rep Danny Richer. "Investigators are looking at maybe two possibilities: someone threw it from the overpass or it fell from a truck or something."

Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay attempted to reassure residents. "The inspectors and engineers told us that the concrete has nothing to do with the existing structure," he said.

Montreal police have now taken over the file and are looking for witnesses.

"We're going to look at the cameras at the buildings around here, so a complete investigation to see if in fact it was a criminal infraction if someone threw it from the bridge," said Constable Olivier Lapointe.

If the rock was tossed off the overpass, it would not have been the first such event in the city.

In April 1997 Cynthia Crichlow, 24, of Ville Emard, was getting a lift from work at a bank in Old Montreal when she was killed by a rock dropped from the overpass leading to the western doors of the Place d'Armes Metro station.

A few years earlier, someone tossed a piece of concrete off an overpass in Laval, smashing a windshield on the passenger side.

Some cities have built barriers on overpasses to prevent people from dropping things onto highways below.