This is one of those sad stories that a writer never wants to write about.
There was a horrible accident earlier today in South Florida at the Miami campus of Florida International University (FIU).
The school was in the process of building a pedestrian bridge across the very busy Tamiami Trail, in an effort to make it safer for pedestrians to come on and off the campus.
The bridge was built in a day, using a new method of bridge building that allowed the builders to only close of the road for several hours in the middle of the night. The bridge itself, without stairs or ramps, was placed in just under 6 hours, and was being widely touted as using cutting edge building technology.
Sadly, on Thursday afternoon the bridge collapsed across 6 lanes of traffic, crushing at least 8 cars beneath it, killing several people and injuring a few more.
The FIU bridge collapsing… I’m still in shock pic.twitter.com/ZNqO2z5ch6
— Megan (@meganmfernandez) March 15, 2018
The numbers of cars and people affected are not yet known because first responders are having a difficult time freeing the trapped vehicles, and people, from the rubble.
The 950 ton bridge fell almost as one long piece and the vehicles, which were stopped at a red light at the intersection, never had an opportunity to move before it came down.
One woman who witnessed the collapse and spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity, said the bridge fell without warning and that it was immediately clear that at least several people had been killed.
Ada Collazo rushed from Hialeah after she found out her daughter’s car had been crushed. Collazo said her daughter was on campus for a nursing meeting.
Collazo’s daughter, Katrina Collazo, had been stopped at a red light when she said she heard what sounded like small rocks falling on her car. As she turned around, the back of her car was crushed, and the car next to her was buried.
“Thank God … my daughter is alive,” Ada Collazo said in Spanish. “I thought my granddaughter was in the car, but she wasn’t. She’s in school.”
Witness Aura Martinez who spoke with CBS4 said, “It was such a scary feeling because I saw [the collapse] and I didn’t know what to do,” she told CBS4. “It just literally killed people and so we ran out there and tried to help people we saw. One girl, her car, it was literally a miracle of God because her car was just squished at the back. … It was very traumatizing.”
Martinez is a sophomore who was trying to find her friend who was one of the victims in the car when the bridge collapsed.
At least 8 people had been transported to local hospitals, and deputies believed that several more were still trapped beneath the bridge.
FIU spokesperson Maydel Santana-Bravo issued a statement, even as rescue crews were still working the scene.
“We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater Bridge,” she said. “At this time, we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information. We are working closely with authorities and first responders on the scene. We will share updates as we have them.”
The two companies that collaborated on the design and building of the bridge have both released statements of regret and concern:
The company that built the bridge, MCM, also issued a statement saying: “Our family’s thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. The new UniversityCity Bridge, which was under construction, experienced a catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life. MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.”
FIGG Bridge Group also helped put together the bridge and issued a statement saying: “We are stunned by today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was under construction over Southwest Eighth Street in Miami. Our deepest sympathies are with all those affected by this accident. We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why. In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before. Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved.”