Death Toll Raised To 6 In Florida Pedestrian Bridge Collapse

Friday, March 16th 2018, 4:35 am
By: News On 6

Police said early Friday the death toll in the collapse of a pedestrian bridge being built here had risen to six -- and there could be more bodies in the rubble. But hopes of finding anyone still alive had all but evaporated.

"This has turned into from a rescue to a recovery operation," Detective Alvaro Zabaleta, a public information officer for the Miami Dade Police Department, told reporters early Friday morning.

Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Dave Downey had said Thursday night his crew was still using high-tech listening devices, trained sniffing dogs and search cameras in a race to find anyone still alive.

In addition to the six people who were killed, at least nine others were injured and taken to local hospitals; officials at one point said 10 were injured.  

As Florida authorities work to identify the people who died in Thursday's catastrophic collapse, state and federal investigators will begin the task of figuring out how and why the five-day-old span failed.   

The $14.2 million pedestrian bridge was supposed to open in 2019 as a safe way for students to cross the busy road beneath. It linked the community of Sweetwater with the campus of Florida International University.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio attended an evening briefing.

Rubio said the public and the families of the dead and injured deserve to know "what went wrong."

Scott added that an investigation will get to the bottom of "why this happened and what happened." He said if anyone did anything wrong, "we will hold them accountable."

Rubio, who is an adjunct professor at the school, noted the pedestrian bridge was intended to be an innovative and "one-of-a-kind engineering design."

An accelerated construction method was supposed to reduce risks to workers and pedestrians and minimize traffic disruption, the university said. The school has long been interested in this kind of bridge design; in 2010, it opened "The ABC (accelerated bridge construction) Center," to help bridge professionals. Other universities around the country partnered with FIU to "provide the transportation industry with the tools needed to effectively and economically utilize the principles of ABC to enhance mobility and safety, and produce safe, environmentally friendly, long-lasting bridges."