What we know so far after FIU’s bridge collapsed

Michelle Marchante/News Director

UPDATE 5/07/18:

New information has been released about the collapse of the University’s pedestrian bridge, including photos of cracks along the supports of the bridge that were discovered 10 days before the bridge was placed.

UPDATE 3/24/18:

Southwest 8th St. from 107 to 117th Ave. reopened Saturday morning. However, the investigation to find out what caused the bridge to collapse is still ongoing.

UPDATE 3/21/18:

Two parties are suing the pedestrian bridge’s design team, citing negligence.

UPDATE 3/19/18 12:23 p.m.: 

-On March, 17, at 8:35 p.m., the final vehicle was extracted from under the collapsed bridge. The vehicle was a white Ford pickup truck,  according to a news release sent out by the Miami-Dade Police Department, and the victim has been identified as Brandon Brownfield.

-A blood drive will be held on Tuesday, March 20, at the MMC campus in Lot 33 from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to support the victims of the collapsed bridge who are still in the hospital.

-Alpha Xi Delta will also be hosting a remembrance event Thursday evening for Alexa Duran, a sister of the sorority and FIU student who lost her life when the bridge collapsed.


UPDATE 3/18/18 3:33 p.m.:

CNN is reporting that Brandon Brownfield is one of the 6 victims of the collapsed bridge.

The other victims, as Student Media previously reported, are FIU student Alexa Duran, Rolando Fraga Hernandez, Oswald Gonzalez, Alberto Arias and Navarro Brown.

-All parking garages and lots, except Lot 5, located in the Modesto Maidique campus will be open as of 6 a.m. Monday, March 19. Lot 5 is closed due to a contract with The Miami-Dade County Youth Fair.


UPDATE 3/18/18 2:24 p.m.:

-All garages located in the Modesto Maidique campus will be open as of 6 a.m. Monday, March 19.

-While FDOT is saying their role in the construction of the pedestrian bridge which collapsed on Thursday, March 15, over SW 8th St. is “limited,” a new report by The Miami Herald shows their involvement in the construction and design of the bridge is more significant. FDOT served as a consultant for many details, was a member of the committee who approved MCM and FIGG and were also involved in selecting the consulting engineering Bolton Perez and Associates, according to the Herald. They also had input in the design and location of the bridge and FDOT staff also attended weekly, bi-weekly and monthly meetings about the bridge.

-FDOT’s “preliminary fact sheet” also stated that Louis Berger, the firm FIU hired to do the required independent secondary design review was not FDOT pre-qualified, something that was required in FIU’s contract with the state. However, the Herald reports that FIU produced a document Saturday which shows that Louis Berger was qualified for the job when it was hired.

Student Media has contacted FDOT for a statement on this discrepancy and is awaiting response. Student Media has also contacted FIU Media Relations to request the document FIU presented Saturday.


UPDATE 3/18/18:

Police believe they’ve removed the two final victims that were trapped under the collapsed bridge late Saturday night. This leaves the death toll at six.

-One of the vehicles extracted Saturday at 5:12 p.m. from the collapsed bridge was a Gray Toyota 4Runner. The victim was Alexa Duran, the FIU student who was identified Thursday afternoon.

– 8th St from 107 to 117 will continue to be closed indefinitely, according to the Highway Safety Patrol during Saturday night’s press conference.

-During Saturday night’s press conference, Director Juan Perez of Miami-Dade Police Department said first responders held a moment of silence after each body was removed from the collapsed bridge.

-FIU will have a moment of silence Monday at 1:47 p.m. to remember the lives of those lost.


UPDATE 3/17/18 6:30 p.m.: 

The third vehicle has been extracted from the bridge collapse and is being transported to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Department.

Classes will also resume Monday but FIUPD are asking everyone, including media, to stay out of the area and out of Parking Garages 4, 5, & 6. Media Staging area is still located in the gravel lot (east of PG5) and FIUPD said on Twitter that they will be enforcing this. However, these garages will be open for any scheduled classes, events or activities, according to FIU’s website. Students will be able to park in PG 1, 2, 3 or surface lots. FIU is also asking students, faculty and staff to make extra time for commuting.


UPDATE 3/17/18 3:30 p.m.:

The Miami-Dade Police Department have released the names of the victims found in the two cars police extracted from under the bridge early Saturday morning. The first vehicle extracted at 5:40 a.m. was a gold jeep Cherokee. The victim has been identified as Rolando Fraga Hernandez. The second vehicle extracted at 6:57 a.m. was a white Chevy truck. The vehicle’s occupants have been identified as Oswald Gonzalez and Alberto Arias.

Additionally, one of the victims who had been transported to Kendall Regional Medical Center by the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue on Thursday has succumbed to his injuries at the hospital. He has been identified as Navarro Brown. Brown was working on-site at the bridge when it collapsed for Structural Technologies VSL, a company that specializes in bridge cable tension and construction systems, according to CNN.


UPDATE 3/17/18 3 p.m.:

The Student Government Association at MMC will also be hosting a vigil to honor the victims of the University City Bridge collapse on Wednesday, March 21, in the GC Ballrooms at 10 a.m. Those who attend will be escorted to the memorial location. SGC-MMC is requesting those who attend to bring items to leave at the memorial. The Student Government Association at the Biscayne Bay campus will also be live-streaming the vigil in the Wolfe Theater.


UPDATE 3/17/18:

Officials hosted a press conference early morning on Saturday, March 17, to provide additional updates following the collapse of the bridge connecting FIU to Sweetwater over 8th St., which has left multiple dead and injured.

Here’s what we know so far:

-8 cars in total were trapped by the collapsed bridge.

-2 cars have been removed with three bodies found inside, according to Juan Perez of Miami Dade Police Department, and are being taken to the medical examiner for identification and family notification.

-6 cars remain trapped.

-Law enforcement hope all vehicles and bodies will be removed from the scene in 12 hours.

-During the press conference, law enforcement said in Spanish that the reason recovery efforts have taken so long is because the bridge is new technology.

-W. Denny Pate, an engineer at FIGG Bridge Group who worked on the bridge design, left a voicemail for the Florida Department of Transportation alerting them to cracks in the structure two days before the bridge fell. FDOT did not hear the message until Friday, a day after the bridge collapsed.

-The Design Build Team of MCM, FIGG, and representatives of FIU and FDOT had met at the MCM trailer located on the construction site Thursday morning at 9 a.m. to discuss the structure cracks, according to a statement FIU released Saturday, March 17, but after a technical presentation conducted by a FIGG engineer, it was concluded that the cracks “did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge.” The bridge collapsed later that day.

-President Mark B. Rosenberg said he would not comment on the bridge cracks voicemail left to FDOT during the press conference because of the ongoing investigation.

-Robert Accetta, who is leading the National Transportation Safety Board investigation, said during Friday night’s press conference that it’s too early to tell if the cracks were involved in the collapse of the bridge.

-NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said during Friday’s night press conference that more information is needed to determine what made the bridge fall. However, NTSB has confirmed that workers were tightening two wires, which were holding the bridge in place, at the time of the collapse. It’s unclear why the streets were not closed during the wire-tightening.

-FDOT had issued a blanket permit to allow workers to close up to two lanes of traffic at any time if they believed it to be necessary but FDOT never received a request to close the entire road after the bridge was installed.


Officials hosted a press conference early morning on Friday, March 16, to provide an update following the collapse of the bridge connecting FIU to Sweetwater over 8th street, which has left at least six people dead and multiple injured.

UPDATE 3/16/18 3:00 p.m.: Alexa Duran, an 18-year-old political science major at FIU, was the first victim identified Thursday afternoon.

-The bridge collapsed on Thursday, March 15, around approximately 1:30 p.m.

-There are still vehicles and victims under the collapsed bridge, number is unknown.

-Law enforcement are no longer doing search and rescue but have moved on to recovery efforts. It is believed there are no survivors still trapped under the bridge.

-Six people, including one FIU student, are confirmed dead but police believe this number may rise as they continue their recovery efforts. 

-This incident is a homicide investigation not a criminal investigation.

-An investigation to discover what caused the bridge to collapse is currently ongoing.

-Southwest 8th Street, from 107th Avenue to 117th Avenue will remain closed until further notice. The eastbound Turnpike exit is also closed.

-The National Transportation Safety Board is at the scene and will be reviewing the entire bridge construction process once recovery of the victims and vehicles is completed. This investigation is expected to take time.

-Despite Senator Marco Rubio tweeting out on Thursday that the bridge collapsed because of a stress test, law enforcement officials have said that it’s not confirmed if a stress test occurred and if it’s why the bridge collapsed.

-NTSB is asking anyone who witnessed the bridge collapse to contact them at witness@ntsb.gov

A family re-unification center was set up at FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus at the Student Academic Success Center for families searching for their loved ones. The number is 305-348-3481.

Student Media will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.

Feature Image by Nicholas Poblete/PantherNOW

About the Author

Michelle Marchante
Michelle Marchante is the 2018-2019 Editor-in-Chief of PantherNOW. Majoring in broadcast journalism, she lives and breathes web, print, radio and TV news 24/7. You can connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM