The Associated Press

‘I Thought I Was Dead:' Victim of Bridge Collapse Speaks Out

What to Know

  • Richard Humble, a 19-year-old sophomore at FIU, was in the car with his friend when the bridge collapsed on their car.
  • Humble's friend is presumed to be dead.
  • The 950-ton bridge was being put to a stress adjustment before it collapsed.

A 19-year-old college student who narrowly escaped Thursday's bridge collapse near the Florida International University campus is recalling the moment the massive concrete structure fell and crushed the vehicle he was riding in. 

Richard Humble, a sophomore at FIU, spoke exclusively to NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez and recalled his terrifying account of how a 950-ton bridge collapsed on the car he was riding in Thursday afternoon, trapping him inside. The driver, Humble's best friend Alexa Duran, was identified Friday by officials as one of the six victims who died in the collapse.

But right after the incident, Humble couldn't find Duran in the wreckage. He screamed her name, hoping to hear a response.

"I was screaming her name so loud, because I just wanted to hear it, and she just wouldn't respond," he said. 

Humble said he couldn't believe how quickly everything happened. 

“I started to hear the bridge creak, so I looked up, and I saw the bridge falling,” he said. “It fell on the roof of the car and caved in, and it kind of caved in on my neck and squished me down.

Humble said that he had no idea what was happening when he first heard the creaking sound, and by the time he did have an idea, it was too late.

“I think I realized what was happening and tried to duck but at the same time, it was just way too fast,” he said.

I was scared beyond my life, I didn’t think I was going to make it out of the car. I thought when I saw the bridge coming down that I was dead."

Humble credits first responders and good Samaritans for helping him get out of the car.

“They wedged a wooden plank in the door and four or five guys pushed it open and helped me out,” said Humble. “I’m extremely grateful; I wish I knew their names or something. I’d like to say thank you to them because I didn’t get to see any of them again.”

When he looks back on what happened, he said, "it feels like a bad dream."

“I’ll space out every once in a while and kind of replay what goes on in my head and everything and all the screaming, but then I kind of snap out of it,” said Humble.

NBC 6 has learned the 950-ton bridge was being put through stress adjustments before it collapsed. Steel cables that run through the concrete are given different tensions based on the loads anticipated during any given phase of the project, such as: construction, erection and in-service.

On Thursday, stresses were being adjusted when the bridge collapsed. The NTSB will determine what exactly went wrong when it collapsed. 

Reports suggest that the stresses were being adjusted when the bridge collapsed. The NTSB will determine what exactly went wrong when it collapsed.

Humble wonders why traffic wouldn't be stopped or diverted while these adjustments were being conducted.

“It doesn’t make sense to me that they could not care about a life like that – it’s like putting another need above a human life, and I don’t think that is acceptable at all,” said Humble.

“What makes me most angry is that it should’ve never happened,” said Lourdes Humble, Richard’s mother. “Somebody knew what was going on with the development and the whole thing. It should’ve never happened.”

Lourdes says she was so grateful to be able to hug him when she saw he was alive.

“His father and I, when we got there, were just, we felt like we were born again to hug him and see he was alive.”

Humble said the president of Florida International University could have done more in his role.

“I think what when you’re in a position like he is, you’re the president of something. You would take responsibility for everything and every action of the people underneath you, because you are supposed to know what is going on at every level,” said Humble.

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