All six Miami bridge collapse victims identified, school set to resume Monday
All six victims in last week's bridge collapse at Florida International University have been identified, bringing an end to the days of waiting for families.
On Monday, classes will resume at the Miami school but the university said life on campus will be far from normal after the tragedy. The first of many expected lawsuits is scheduled to be filed on Monday by Orlando-based attorney Matt Morgan, who is representing one of the injured victims.
All this while investigators try to determine what caused the pedestrian bridge to fall onto a busy highway, killing six people and leaving at least eight others injured.
Miami-Dade Police confirmed Sunday that Alexa Duran, 18, a freshman political science student at the university, was extracted from a Toyota 4Runner pancaked in the debris. Her body was removed from the rubble Saturday evening, police said.
Brandon Brownfield, 39, who worked as a tower crane technician and was a father of three young children, also was killed, police said Sunday. His family said he was driving in his Ford F-250 pickup Thursday when the bridge collapsed.
“I keep trying to find the words to share with you — our friends and family — but nothing feels right,” Chelsea Brownfield wrote in a Facebook post. “Please keep us in your prayers, as I now have to find the words and the answers to tell my girls that their Daddy is not coming home.”
Police identified the four other victims on Saturday as Rolando Fraga Hernandez; Oswald Gonzalez, 57; Alberto Arias, 53; and Navarro Brown. Three of the victims were pulled from vehicles. The fourth died at a hospital after the accident.
Eight other people pulled from the rubble are still being treated at a nearby hospital.
A total of eight cars were partially trapped when the 950-ton bridge buckled Thursday afternoon. At least four vehicles were pancaked under the massive slabs of concrete, which made recovering victims difficult.
Juan Perez, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, said the death toll will stay at six. Still, crews scoured the rubble again Sunday to make sure no additional victims are buried.
Joe Smitha, an uncle of Duran, blamed the collapse on “complete incompetence” and “colossal failure” that allowed people to drive beneath the bridge that had shown signs of possible distress, according to the Associated Press.
Two days before the collapse, an engineer from the firm that designed the walkway, FIGG Bridge Group, left a voicemail with state transportation officials warning of cracks in the structure.
The university also confirmed last week that stakeholders held a two-hour meeting at 9 a.m. on Thursday inside a construction trailer near the site, just hours before the collapse, to discuss the crack that had formed on the bridge.
The $14.2 million structure, scheduled to open in 2019, was intended to link Florida International University's new dorms with off-campus housing above a seven-lane roadway.
“Why they had to build this monstrosity in the first place to get children across the street?” Smitha said. “Then they decided to stress test this bridge while traffic was running underneath it?”
Contributing: Alan Gomez and Christal Hayes