The death toll has now risen to 6.
The recovery operations continue after the collapse of Florida International University pedestrian bridge. As crews labored to lift, cut and dig through 950-tons of debris, the death toll has risen to six people, with 10 more reported as sustaining serious injury.
While the causes of the disaster are still being investigated, there is news that cracks in the structure were reported to the state’s transportation agency two days before the collapse.
While rescuers worked through the day and night to clear the rubble, the Florida Department of Transportation said late Friday that two days before the bridge collapsed the lead engineer responsible for the project had left a voice mail with an agency worker saying there was cracking in the structure.
The FDOT worker did not receive the voice mail until Friday, the agency said in a statement that included a transcript of the message from Denney Pate with FIGG Bridge Group, which engineered the structure.
“Obviously some repairs will need to be done but from a safety perspective we don’t see that there’s any issue there so we’re not concerned … although obviously the cracking is not good and something’s going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that,” Pate said in the voice mail transcript provided by FDOT.
Then, hours before the bridge fell, the engineering company for the bridge held a meeting to discuss a crack on the structure.
The engineering company, Figg Bridge Engineers, delivered a technical presentation on the crack, and “concluded there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge,” the statement said.
The construction manager on the project and representatives from the university and the state Department of Transportation attended the two-hour meeting, which was led by Figg’s lead engineer on the project, W. Denney Pate.
…At no point during their communications, the department said, “did Figg or any member of the F.I.U. design-build team ever communicate a life-safety issue.”
Whether the cracking contributed to the collapse, which killed at least six people, remains a key question in the investigation.
Construction crews were working on a diagonal beam at the north end of the structure at or about the time of the collapse, according to information the National Transportation Safety Board provided to local members of Congress. Workers were tightening cables that ran inside the beam.
Meanwhile, the names of four victims have been officially identified as recovery crews continue their grim task.
Miami-Dade police have identified four of the people killed: Rolando Fraga Hernandez; Oswald Gonzalez, 57; Alberto Arias, 53; and Navarro Brown.
The bodies of Fraga Hernandez, Gonzalez and Arias were recovered from crushed vehicles that workers extracted Saturday morning, police said.
The family of FIU student Alexa Duran has said that she was killed in the collapse, but police have not named her as being among the dead.
…Workers covered the crumpled cars with tarps and placed them onto flatbed trucks that took them away.
Crews were “paying respect with a moment of silence” before sending them to the medical examiner’s office, Miami-Dade police Director Juan Perez said.
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