Classes Resume at FIU For First Time Since Deadly Bridge Collapse as Investigation Continues

The first civil lawsuit relating to the bridge collapse was filed Monday

What to Know

  • The school will be holding a moment of silence at 1:47 p.m. to remember those lives lost and affected by the collapse of a pedestrian bridge
  • One student at the school, 18-year-old freshman Alexa Duran, was among those killed in the incident.
  • Authorities identified the sixth and final victim of the collapsed bridge on Sunday.

Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg joined students and staff to hold hands and bow their heads for a moment of silence at 1:47 p.m. ET Monday to honor the victims of a bridge collapse that killed six people.

The moment of silence was the first in a series of memorials as classes resumed on campus after the university's spring break.

In a statement, Rosenberg said a blood drive was scheduled Tuesday to support wounded victims who remain hospitalized.

The Student Government Association will hold a vigil Wednesday morning for Alexa Duran, an FIU student killed when the bridge collapsed on her car. Duran's sorority will hold a memorial for her Thursday evening.

Students returning to class said they were angry that traffic was allowed to flow under the bridge while testing continued on the 950-ton structure.

Meanwhile, the first civil lawsuit relating to the bridge collapse was filed Monday after Matt Morgan, an Orlando-based lawyer, announced it on Twitter late Sunday. The Miami Herald is reporting that the case involves Marquise Hepburn, who was injued when riding his bike under the bridge after a car hit him trying to escape the collapse, according to a lawsuit filed in a Miami circuit court.

“It is imperative we act quickly to secure critical documentation & data,” Morgan wrote.

Authorities identified the sixth and final victim Sunday. Miami-Dade Police and the family of Brandon Brownfield confirmed that the father of three was killed in the collapse.

"I want to thank you all for your continuous love and support and prayers over the last 3 days," his wife, Chelsea, wrote on social media. "The coming days are going to be excruciating, as we dig deep to find the strength we need to heal."

The Brownfields had three young daughters, and the family moved to Florida several years ago for his job at Maxim Crane Works, according to a fundraising page a friend started for the family that had raised more than $50,000 in a few days. He was driving home from work when the bridge collapsed.

"I now have to find the words and the answers to tell my girls that their Daddy is not coming home," his wife wrote on Facebook.

Navarro Brown, a 37-year-old employee with Structural Technologies VSL, was listed among those killed. He had died at the hospital. Ronaldo Fraga–Hernandez's gold Jeep Cherokee was pinned underneath the weight of the concrete.

Osvaldo Gonzalez and Alberto Arias, friends and business partners, happened to pass under a Miami bridge that Thursday afternoon, the road bustling with fellow drivers also out on the most ordinary and nonthreatening of life's tasks. Their bodies were found Saturday inside their white Chevy truck as rescuers for days painstakingly dug through the debris.

Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the bridge to crumble —a bridge that was built with the intent of allowing people to safely cross the busy roadway. Cracking had been reported in the concrete span in the days before and crews were performing what's called "post-tensioning force" on the bridge when it flattened onto the busy highway.

New video released Sunday showed one teenager being rescued from a vehicle shortly after the collapse – while his friend was not able to be saved.

Richard Humble, a 19-year-old student, had not been feeling well earlier in the week. On Thursday, his friend Duran, the nicest person he said he ever knew, gave him a ride to his doctor's office to pick up some medication. They stopped at a red light, under the bridge.

"I heard a creak, a long creak," Humble told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "I looked up, and in an instant, the bridge was collapsing on us completely. It was too quick to do anything about it."

Once he realized he was alive, he also realized that he couldn't get to his friend. As he called out for her, getting no response, a group of men outside the car started yelling at him to try crawling out of the car. They pried open the door to free him.

He sat on a curb as rescue workers checked out the cuts on his leg and slight fracture in a vertebrae. He remembers asking, "What do I do?"

"Everyone has to pick up the pieces," he said the rescuer responded. "Life doesn't stop."

Dania Garlobo was driving to work at a nail salon when the green light changed to yellow and a man in a white Mercedes tried to make it through the light, but stomped on the brakes just as the bridge fell in front of him.

"He was almost caught underneath. I couldn't believe it," Garlobo said. She watched the bridge smash into the street below in what seemed like an instant.

"How is it that a strong bridge falls down like a piece of board," she asked.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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