Three Cars Extracted From Under Fallen Pedestrian Bridge

People who haven't heard from their loved ones congregated near the scene Friday

What to Know

  • Crews worked through the night at the site of Thursday’s tragic collapse innovative pedestrian bridge being built near the campus of FIU.
  • Miami-Dade Police Det. Alvaro Zabaleta said that six people have been killed as a result of the collapse.
  • The 950-ton bridge was put to a "stress adjustment" before it collapsed over traffic before 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Three bodies were recovered from three vehicles pulled from debris of the fallen 950-ton pedestrian bridge near Florida International University on Saturday, authorities said during a Saturday news conference. 

The three bodies are among the six that were counted dead after the bridge collapsed on March 15, Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp said. Crews are working to extract the last three cars trapped beneath the rubble.

The three vehicles removed Saturday were completely flattened after the bridge collapsed, video shows. The cars were transported to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Department after they were extracted, according to the MDPD. 

Authorities said a total of eight cars had been trapped underneath the bridge, and crews are now attempting to lift and move heavy pieces of concrete to remove the remaining vehicles, which are "very difficult to extract," Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp said.

Authorities said Friday there could be more fatalities beyond the six deaths already counted in the collapse of the 174-feet concrete structure. As state and federal investigators worked to determine how and why the five-day-old-span failed, Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez told reporters at a Friday news conference he expects additional victims to be found.

By late Saturday, five had been identified: Alexa Duran, an 18-year-old FIU student; Alberto Arias and his passenger Oswald Gonzalez; Rolando Fraga-Hernandez and Navarro Brown.   

NBC News reported that Duran was driving home from a doctor's appointment when the bridge collapsed on top of her car. Her best friend, Richard Humble, was in the passenger seat when it happened. He told the "Today" show that he and Duran had been at a red light when they heard a creak above them, just seconds before the bridge crushed their car. 

Humble said that it happened too fast for them to duck out of the way. He suffered a neck injury but was able to walk away, he told "Today."

He told NBC News that although he feels "very grateful to be alive," he doesn't "feel so lucky right now."

Relatives of Arias, said he had been helping his mother move when the bridge collapsed on his white Chevy truck. His friend and passenger, Gonzalez, also died from the impact.

Brown, 37, was working on site at the time of the collapse.

Experts from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration joined police in taking over command of the scene Friday from first responders, who had spent hours racing to find survivors in the rubble of the 175-foot span using high-tech listening devices, trained sniffing dogs and search cameras.

Ten people were transported to Kendall Regional Medical Center from the site of the collapse near Southwest 8th Street and 109th Avenue. Two were listed in critical condition when they arrived and one person died at the hospital. Officials have not confirmed if the deceased was one of the 10 taken there or if it was someone who was brought in themselves.

The bridge was reportedly put to a "stress adjustment" before it collapsed over traffic before 2 p.m. on Thursday. Two workers were on top when it pancaked on top of vehicles waiting at a stoplight.

Perez and Miami-Dade County deputy mayor Maurice Kemp would not confirm if that test did take place.

And on Tuesday, an engineer of the company that designed the bridge warned the Florida Department of Transportation of cracks to the structure in a voicemail, but said the company was "not concerned" from a "safety perspective."

Denney Pate from the FIGG Bridge Group left the voicemail, and FDOT employees did not listen to the voicemail until Friday – the day after the bridge collapsed.

Sgt. Jenna Mendez of the Sweetwater Police Department was one of the first responders on the scene. The collapse happened while she was driving to work and she said she only missed becoming a victim herself because she had been running late and was stopped at a red light when the disaster struck. 

“I really wasn’t believing what I had seen,” she told NBC's "Today" show on Friday. 

Mendez said that after realizing what had happened she jumped on top of the bridge to help construction workers who were "severely injured." 

"I was just in that rescue mode," she said. Fire rescue officials had to yell at her not to put her safety at risk by going under the debris. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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