On Thursday, March 15, a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, collapsed, leaving four people dead and several others injured.
“The pedestrian bridge across Southwest Eighth Street has collapsed, please avoid the area,” a message on FIU’s Twitter page read. The school issued the following statement a short while after the accident.
“We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge. 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.”
A Florida International University student by the name of Alexa Duran is still missing after the bridge fell on her car.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Was Driving Under the Bridge When it Collapsed & Her Friend Who Was Riding in the Passenger Seat Was Able to Escape
Two friends of Duran told the Miami Herald that they went to the university’s Student Academic Success Center, which is being used as a family reunification center, to look for her. They also went to the hospital where several victims sought treatment, but were unable to find their friend.
Lynnet Gomez and Manny Perez told the Miami Herald that Duran was driving her Toyota SUV under the bridge at the time of the collapse.
“The way the bridge fell, it fell on the driver’s side,” Perez told the Miami Herald.
Their other friend, Richard Humble, was in the car with Duran, riding on the passenger’s side. He was able to get out of the vehicle, but he couldn’t get Duran out.
“Humble sustained some injuries and is in a neck brace and a leg brace but is otherwise in stable condition,” the Miami Herald reports.
2. She Studies Political Science at FIU
Duran is a freshman at Florida International University where she majors in political science.
Before enrolling at FIU, Duran attended Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School — a co-educational, private Catholic school, located in Fort Lauderdale.
“It is the school’s sacred trust to provide a varied program of religious experiences, educational offerings, athletic programs, social and cultural opportunities and community service encounters that will provide a foundation upon which the individual recognizes one’s personal relationship with community and Church,” reads the “About” section on the school’s website.
3. She Is Described as a Person Who Would ‘Lighten up a Room’
Lynnet Gomez and Manny Perez had nothing but wonderful things to say about Duran. Not only is she the kind of person that can instantly “lighten up a room,” but she also has a great sense of humor.
“She is the funniest person I know,” Gomez told the Miami Herald. Gomez and Duran attended high school together and are good friends, according to el Nuevo Herald.
The two girls live in Miami Lakes, a Miami suburb that is approximately 20 minutes from FIU.
4. Police Have Confirmed 4 Deaths, But That Number Could Rise
Authorities have confirmed that four people died in Thursday’s accident, but have not released the names of any of the deceased.
There are ten people who have been receiving treatment at Kendall Regional Medical Center’s trauma unit . Eight of those patients are expected to be okay after being treated for minor injuries including cuts and broken bones. Two of those victims are listed in critical condition.
According to the Miami Herald, one of those victims went into cardiac arrest and required emergency surgery. The other victim also required surgery and was being treated by a neurosurgeon.
“The most important thing we can do right now is pray for the individuals who ended up in the hospital, for their full recovery, and pray for the family members who lost loved ones,” Florida Governor Rick Scott said during a press conference.
5. The Bridge Was Put Into Place on Saturday, March 10
Florida International University wanted to install a pedestrian bridge to connect the city of Sweetwater with the northern entrance of the school. The bridge was suspended over 8th Street, a busy road that consists of seven lanes of traffic.
The bridge was erected in an effort to help ensure the safety of students and faculty who walked to the school. Previously, they have had to walk across the very busy street to get to the school, which has proven to be dangerous — in August 2017, a female student by the name of Alexis Dale was killed when she was hit by a car while crossing the street.
“It is with heavy hearts that we inform you that early this morning an FIU student was struck by a vehicle while crossing SW 8th Street at 109th Avenue, adjacent to MMC,” an official statement from the university read at the time.
The bridge was propped up on “temporary supports, [before being] rotated 90 degrees across an eight-lane thoroughfare, and lowered into its permanent position,” on Saturday, March 10, according to FIU.