SEVERE WX : Fire Weather Watch View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

All 6 victims recovered in Florida bridge collapse

As three bodies were recovered from the rubble of a South Florida pedestrian bridge collapse Saturday, Florida Intern...

Posted: Mar 18, 2018 11:28 PM
Updated: Mar 18, 2018 11:29 PM

As three bodies were recovered from the rubble of a South Florida pedestrian bridge collapse Saturday, Florida International University revealed that engineers talked about the structural integrity of the span hours before its collapse this week and deemed it safe.

Authorities have said they believe at least six people were killed in Thursday's collapse near FIU, including the three recovered Saturday and one who died in a hospital.

Miami-Dade police have identified four of the people killed: Rolando Fraga Hernandez; Oswald Gonzalez, 57; Alberto Arias, 53; and Navarro Brown.

The bodies of Fraga Hernandez, Gonzalez and Arias were recovered from crushed vehicles that workers extracted Saturday morning, police said.

The family of FIU student Alexa Duran has said that she was killed in the collapse, but police have not named her as being among the dead.

Miami-Dade County Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp cautioned Saturday that the final death toll won't be known until all the vehicles are removed.

Six cars have been recovered and at least two more vehicles remain in the rubble, police said. Workers covered the crumpled cars they recovered with tarps and placed them onto flatbed trucks that took them away.

Crews were "paying respect with a moment of silence" before sending them to the medical examiner's office, Miami-Dade police Director Juan Perez said.

"It's going to be a long process" to remove the remaining vehicles, Perez said, "because (of) the ... weight and size of the structure that is laying on top of these vehicles."

Bridge crack discussed hours before collapse

In a statement Saturday, FIU said a two-hour meeting was held at 9 a.m. Thursday at the construction site to discuss a crack that had appeared on the structure, put in place days earlier.

Attending were representatives from FIU, the Florida Department of Transportation, Munilla Construction Management (MCM) and FIGG Bridge Engineers, the statement said. FIGG designed the bridge.

"The FIGG engineer of record delivered a technical presentation regarding the crack and concluded that there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge," the statement said.

The bridge collapsed around 1:30 p.m. that day.

A spokesperson for FIGG could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Two days before the span fell, a FIGG engineer called a FDOT employee to warn of "some cracking."

The state employee was out on assignment that day. The call from W. Denney Pate of FIGG went unanswered, and the voice mail he recorded unheard -- until Friday, the day after the span fell.

In Tuesday's voice mail, Pate said the cracking on the north end of the span should be repaired. However, he added, there were no safety concerns on the project.

"We've taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done," Pate said.

"But from a safety perspective, we don't see that there's any issue there so we're not concerned about it from that perspective, although obviously the cracking is not good and something's going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that."

The bridge was supposed to enhance safety and keep pedestrians safe from traffic on busy Southwest Eighth Street, where a vehicle fatally struck an FIU student in August. The collapse happened months before completion.

It's too early to tell whether the bridge failed when construction workers were applying post-tensioning force to strengthen the beams, said Robert Accetta of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Accetta said a crack in the bridge "does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe."

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida is asking the US Department of Transportation for documents related to the "engineering, design, construction, safety and inspection."

"In light of the fact that there were multiple agencies and companies involved, we're going to need a clear understanding of who had what role in this horrible tragedy," Nelson said in a statement Friday.

Searching for loved ones

Authorities have said crews may find more people as they dig through the rubble.

Among the six killed is Alexa Duran, her father told el Nuevo Herald.

The FIU student was driving under the bridge Thursday when it crashed down. A friend traveling with Duran tried but couldn't pull her out.

"My little girl was trapped in the car and couldn't get out," Orlando Duran said.

Alexa Duran's sister, Dina, posted her feelings on Instagram. "Rest In Peace my sweet little sister. Words cannot describe how heavy my heart is. I would give anything to take your place and all of your pain," she said.

Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa confirmed Alexa Duran's death in a tweet, saying: "I'm sorry to inform you of the death of Alexa Dur-n, 18-year-old and the daughter of an Ecuadorian father, in the collapse of the pedestrian bridge in Miami in front of the @FIU. Our Consulate is working to obtain details of the accident and provide assistance to the family."

Bridge was to connect campus to neighborhood

The pedestrian bridge was meant to connect the FIU campus to a neighborhood in Sweetwater, home to more than 4,000 of its students. FIU is the second-largest public university in Florida, with about 50,000 students.

The university used Accelerated Bridge Construction technology to build the bridge. Unlike traditional methods of construction, it streamlines the building process so that bridge projects can be completed quicker and more cost effectively.

The 174-foot main span had been assembled on the side of the road, allowing traffic to continue. On March 10, a rig moved the span into position over the street as community members gathered to watch. The process took about six hours.

The bridge was scheduled to open to foot traffic in 2019.

FIU has been on spring break this week, but classes will resume as scheduled on Monday. Counseling services will be available for students, faculty and staff, the school said.

The university's Student Government Association is planning to hold a vigil for the victims Wednesday morning at a campus facility.

Safety concerns

Munilla Construction Management, or MCM, a construction firm building the bridge, and FIGG Bridge Engineers said they are cooperating with investigators

A spokesman for MCM told CNN the company has had $152 million in federally funded government projects in the past five years. Federal contract data show that since 2013, MCM has been awarded about $130 million worth of contracts from the Army and Navy for construction, maintenance and repair projects. Documents show it was involved in bridge projects nationwide.

At least one MCM project resulted in a lawsuit concerning safety. Records show the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited MCM for 11 violations involving construction projects in Miami and Hialeah, Florida, between 2014 and 2017.

The OSHA violations included citations for employees not receiving proper hazardous-chemicals training before handling concrete, not removing water from excavations and not wearing safety glasses and protective gloves, documents show.

The reason behind Thursday's collapse remains a mystery, and the company has said it will conduct a full investigation.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19366

Reported Deaths: 328
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah449793
Washington284923
Marion269268
Umatilla206024
Clackamas142136
Malheur67610
Deschutes5408
Lane5233
Lincoln3959
Jackson3941
Union3882
Yamhill38611
Jefferson3113
Morrow3051
Polk29612
Linn25410
Klamath1961
Wasco1703
Hood River1690
Benton1576
Douglas1341
Josephine1071
Coos850
Clatsop820
Columbia790
Crook431
Baker330
Lake320
Tillamook300
Wallowa191
Sherman150
Curry140
Harney80
Gilliam40
Grant20
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 516851

Reported Deaths: 9441
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1938774702
Orange37813651
Riverside37011695
San Bernardino33432418
San Diego29883565
Kern20651144
Fresno15083138
San Joaquin11885180
Alameda11524189
Santa Clara10794191
Sacramento10122145
Tulare9745189
Imperial9448222
Stanislaus9221112
Contra Costa8033127
Ventura734476
San Francisco691661
Santa Barbara616760
San Mateo5683119
Marin509270
Monterey492430
Kings445356
Merced428550
Solano361137
Sonoma311339
Madera194330
Placer192516
San Luis Obispo190216
Yolo157242
Santa Cruz11524
Butte9417
Napa8888
Sutter7976
San Benito6474
El Dorado6371
Lassen6260
Yuba5024
Shasta3909
Glenn3321
Colusa3314
Mendocino3229
Nevada2991
Tehama2341
Humboldt2334
Lake2081
Mono1451
Tuolumne1412
Amador1260
Calaveras1251
Del Norte880
Siskiyou730
Inyo611
Mariposa572
Plumas330
Trinity50
Alpine20
Modoc20
Sierra20
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 66°
Brookings
Overcast
58° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 58°
Crater Lake
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 63°
Grants Pass
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 66°
Klamath Falls
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
Thunderstorm chances ahead
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events