UPDATE: At Least 6 Fatalities Reported in Pedestrian Bridge Collapse at Florida International University in Miami

Multiple Fatalities and Trapped Cars in Pedestrian Bridge Collapse at Florida International University in Miami

Photo Credit: CNN

A pedestrian bridge collapsed at Florida International University in Miami on Thursday, March 15th, leaving at least 6 people dead and at least 8 cars trapped under the debris. There are at least 10 injury victims. Reports from this horrific tragedy are still coming in, and no cause has been given for the collapse as of yet.

You can see aerial footage of the collapse here. WARNING: the following images may be disturbing to viewers.

The investigation is underway

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Alejandro Camacho told CBS News that there were “several fatalities” on Thursday. A witness told CBS that she saw one construction worker transported by an ambulance, and another person receive CPR. They report: “White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump was aware of the situation. Florida Gov. Rick Scott says he has been in touch with local police and is monitoring the response.” Governor Scott tweeted “I have spoken with Miami-Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez about the pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU. I will be in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day.” He plans on traveling to Miami tonight.

About the bridge

The 950 ton pedestrian bridge at FUI covered Southwest 8th Street by 109th Avenue. It was installed on Saturday, March 10th, and wasn’t expected to be completed until 2019. The bridge cost more than $14 million to build, and was partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Per CNN, “It was designed to withstand the strength of a Category 5 hurricane… and was supposed to last for more than 100 years.”

The bridge was the first of its kind, built with an approach called Accelerated Bridge Construction. This type of construction was created to improve on 5 areas of construction:

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Durability
  • Social costs
  • Environmental impacts

ABC technology allowed the pre-fab bridge to be built almost to completion before supports were installed. Senator Marco Rubio tweeted “The cables that suspend the #Miami bridge had loosened & the engineering firm ordered that they be tightened. They were being tightened when it collapsed today.”

ABC News reports:

“One of the companies that constructed the bridge, Munilla Construction Management, said in a statement that it will conduct a ‘full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong’ and that it will cooperate with investigators on the scene ‘in every way.’

‘The new UniversityCity Bridge, which was under construction, experienced a catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life,’ the company said. ‘MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist.’”

MCM and FIGG, a Tallahassee-based company, were involved in the construction of the bridge. Both companies have faced fines in the past for violations. CBS News reports that MCM had been served with a lawsuit only 10 days before the crash, on behalf of a “TSA employee who was hurt at the Fort Lauderdale airport. The employee’s lawyer alleges that a makeshift bridge MCM built for workers to use while the company does construction at the airport broke under his weight.” MCM has been fined 11 times in the last five years.

FIGG was fined $28,000 in 2012 by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry for multiple violations during the construction of a bridge which led to a “90-ton piece of concrete crashing to the ground.”

The only silver lining? FIU is on Spring Break

The events unfolding are tragic, but if there is anything close to a silver lining, it is this: the university is currently on Spring Break, which likely reduced the number of students who could have been present when the bridge collapsed.  As of now, it is being reported that one FUI student has died as a result of the collapse.

Yeboah Law Group will update as more information becomes available. For now, we are keeping the victims and their families in our hearts, and the first responders on the scene in our thoughts.

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