A pedestrian bridge was under construction to connect Florida International University and a neighborhood that was home to around 4,000 of their students after someone died trying to cross the street.
Rescuers worked long days and hours to extract all of the victims. “I believe that is the final count,” Miami-Dade County Police Director Juan Perez said on Saturday. “This ends with a tragedy of six. … We are pretty confident that no one is left.” Rescuers took a break on Saturday to pay tribute to the victims.
A police motorcade escorted the remains of five victims to the medical examiner’s office. A sixth person shortly died at the hospital.
Alexa Duran, an 18-year-old student at the University, was in a gray Toyota 4Runner that was extracted from underneath the rubble on Saturday afternoon. “My little girl was trapped in the car and couldn’t get out,” her father, Orlando Duran, told El Nuevo Herald, a sister newspaper to The Miami Herald.
Duran’s sister, Dina, posted on Instagram, “Rest In Peace, my sweet little sister. Words cannot describe how heavy my heart is. I would give anything to take your place and all of your pain. I will cherish every memory we’ve made and will miss you every day for the rest of my life. A piece of my heart is with you. Heaven is a better and funnier place with you in it. May your beautiful soul rest with the Angels my love. I will see you again soon.”
Brandon Brownfield was also killed in the bridge collapse. His wife, Chelsea Brownfield said, “It’s a pretty magical thing to find your soulmate in this world. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, our crazy curvy edges matched and we fit together like no one else could.” Brownfield was a crane technician for Maxim Crane.
In a Facebook post, Chelsea Brownfield said they had been married for almost four years and have three girls. “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,” she wrote.
Navarro Brown, 37, was working on-site at the bridge when the bridge collapsed. He was taken to a hospital and died there, police said.
On Saturday morning, Rolando Fraga Hernandez was identified as the victim inside a gold Jeep Cherokee that was removed from underneath the debris.
57-year-old Oswald Gonzalez and Alberto Arias, 53, were pulled from the rubble from a white Chevy truck on Saturday.
FlU President Mark B. Rosenberg said the university is fully cooperating with authorities investigating the collapse. “Even as we grieve, we all have an interest in getting to the bottom of what happened,” he said in a statement.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigation will continue for several months. It will “pinpoint where was the mistake and/or the failure that led to this catastrophic event,”
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told reporters, “And that is something that the community needs, the families need, the country needs to make sure it never happens again.”
The university used Accelerated Bridge Construction technology to build the bridge. Unlike traditional methods of construction, it streamlines the building process so that bridge projects can be completed quicker and more cost-effectively. Rubio said the technology was faster but not “in the sense of cutting corners.”