The Latest: Multiple Dead; Pedestrian Bridge at FIU Collapses

The newly installed pedestrian bridge connecting Sweetwater with the Florida International University campus collapsed Thursday on to the street below. Chopper video shows multiple vehicles (eight vehicles confirmed trapped under the bridge) smashed under the fallen concrete. 

Florida Highway Patrol authorities have confirmed that there are "several fatalities," though the exact number has not been confirmed. Eight additional individuals have been rushed to the hospital with injuries. 

Southwest eighth street is completely blocked near 109th Avenue where that bridge once spanned. 

More than 100 rescue crews and personnel are on scene, though officials say the last patient has been rescued and there is no longer anyone trapped in or under the debris.

FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg sent the following message to the university community:

Dear FIU family, I am heartbroken at the news of the collapse of the pedestrian bridge on 8th Street and the resulting devastation. We send our deepest condolences to the victims and their families. We are working with the appropriate agencies to assist in rescue efforts. As soon as we have further information, we will share it with you. Please keep the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers.

Governor Rick Scott took to Twitter after the incident, to announce that he was en route to FIU to be briefed on the rescue mission taking place right now in Sweetwater.

Senator Bill Nelson confirmed via Twitter that the National Transportation Board of Safety will be conducting a full and complete investigation into the bridge collapse and the events that led up to the incident.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, although away on business, according to a statement, also released a response following the collapse Thursday afternoon:

I have received news about the FIU Pedestrian Bridge collapse and am actively monitoring this tragic situation from abroad, as I am away on County business.  I have dispatched Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp to the scene and have spoken with Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Pérez and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Dave Downey, who are sending support and resources. I will continue to monitor the situation and will be in constant communication. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by this tragedy and with the first responders who are on the scene.

Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, also reacted: 

I am shocked and horrified by the FIU Pedestrian Bridge collapse. I am praying for the victims and families of this tragedy.

I was grateful to have received a phone call from Transportation Secretary Chao, who offered her condolences and utmost support during this time. As the NTSB has announced they will be conducting an investigation, I will fully review their findings so we can address how this happened and how to prevent it from ever happening again.

The 174-foot, 950-ton bridge known as the UniversityCity Bridge was build next to Southwest 8th Street and "swung" into place this past weekend.

It was build using Accelerated Bridge Construction methods. That meant it was actually designed to be installed quickly, and was supposed to reduce risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians.

Shortly after the bridge was installed FIU's President Mark Rosenberg had this statement:  "FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully... We are filled with pride and satisfaction at seeing this engineering feat come to life and connect our campus to the surrounding community where thousands of our students live."

"This project is an outstanding example of the ABC method," said chair of FIU’s Civil & Environmental Engineering Department and director of FIU’s ABC-UTC Atorod Azizinamini. "Building the major element of the bridge - its main span superstructure - outside of the traveled way and away from busy Eighth Street is a milestone."

The bridge was in the process of being built by South Miami-based Munilla Construction Management (MCM), in partnership with Pennsylvania-based FIGG Bridge Engineers.

MCM, which was established in 1983, and which specializes in building and heavy civil construction, has done business with the county numerous times.   

Mere hours before the incident, MGM took to Facebook to post about the community coming together over the weekend to watch the installation of the massive bridge.

According to a report by Local10, FIGG Bridge Engineers said they have no comment on the collapse. 

The FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Bridge was the largest pedestrian bridge in U.S. history to be moved with Self-Propelled Modular Transportation and the first in the world to be made entirely of self-cleaning concrete.  That meant when it was exposed to sunlight, the titanium dioxide would turn pollutant white.

The bridge was not set to open to pedestrians until next year.

For live updates, tune into WIOD.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content