A pedestrian bridge near Florida International University collapsed on March 15, 2018 crushing vehicles beneath it in a horrific tragedy that unfolded in Miami. What is known about the victims?
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said that authorities responded to find “eight trapped vehicles under the bridge.” They had transported eight victims to the hospital immediately after responding to the scene. However, they weren’t sure if there were more victims inside the debris. Florida International University’s campus is located nearby. It’s not yet clear whether any of the victims are connected to FIU, however. A reunification center was set up at FIU, authorities said.
“We could only see eight [vehicles] from the exterior of the bridge,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey said. “We are creating holes just so that we can physically see [if there are others].” Authorities said that there might be victims still alive in the pile.
“The focus of the fire department is rescuing people,” authorities said, but they expect that the homicide unit will be investigating.
Authorities have not yet released their names pending identification and notification of next of kin. However, some details are known about the number of victims and where they were when the bridge collapsed. Technical rescue technicians were on the scene, and full cranes were at the scene. Authorities called the first responders heroes, and said the first call came in from a mechanic whose voice cracked as he told officials the bridge had just collapsed. A Miami-Dade police officer, who owns a business directly across the bridge, was the first responder. His wife told officials he worked on a victim for 15 minutes to keep the person alive.
Authorities said in a news conference that “live search dogs” were working “the pile” and they were in “full search and rescue mode.” Just before 2 p.m., the calls came in of the bridge collapse. As units arrived, they observed several vehicles that were involved as a result of the class, and they shifted to a search and rescue effort. They asked the public to avoid the area while they searched for victims.
“We have multiple victims,” they said in a press conference shortly after the tragedy unfolded. “The final number has not been determined yet.” Authorities said their thoughts and prayers went out to the victims of the tragedy.
On March 10, 2018, FIU had posted a now eerie post on Twitter about the bridge. “First-of-its-kind pedestrian bridge ‘swings’ into place. ‘FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,’ -President Mark B. Rosenberg,” the tweet said, showing a photo of the bridge under construction.
According to NBC News, “the planned walkway connected the FIU campus to the town of Sweetwater.” It was scheduled to open next year and was supposed to be strong enough to withstand even a hurricane, NBC reported. “We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge,” the university said in a statement. “At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information.”
This post will be updated with information on each victim as more information becomes known.