Pedestrian bridge collapses leaving 'casualties' at Florida University

Jeffrey Greenberg  UIG via Getty Images FILE

A newly-installed pedestrian bridge collapsed Thursday afternoon at Florida International University in the Miami area. "As soon as those efforts are over, our homicide bureau will take the lead".

Early morning view of the main span of the FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity Pedestrian Bridge as it was lifted from its temporary supports, rotated 90 degrees across an eight-lane thoroughfare and lowered into its permanent position over Southwest Eighth Street on Saturday, March 10, 2018. "At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information", the school said in a statement.

The bridge, located at 109th Ave and 8th Street, collapsed on a number of cars. Gov. Rick Scott said he was headed there as well.

"Obviously we have a awful tragedy here", said Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp. We are working closely with authorities and first responders on the scene.

Before Saturday's installation, FIU said the method of overall installation significantly reduced the risk to workers, walkers, drivers and minimized traffic disruptions for construction. FIU runs parallel to it and it's the 109 building, which is a dormitory for the students, is right in front of where the crash happened.

One woman who barely avoided the deadly bridge collapse at Florida International University said she saw the structure crumble "in front of me, and it fell on the cars that were waiting for the light to change".

"I will be in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day", the governor said.

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Munilla Construction Management, which installed the bridge, in a statement on Twitter, said the bridge suffered a "catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life". But an archived version of the website featured a news release touting the project with FIGG Bridge Engineers, "a nationally acclaimed, award-winning firm based out of Tallahassee".

"MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist".

Figg issued a statement Thursday saying the company was "stunned" by the collapse and promising to cooperate with every authority investigating the collapse. In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before. The collapsed occurred about 1:30 p.m. ET.

Munilla Construction Management was founded in 1983 and is owned by five brothers, according to its website. It is not known how many people may have been injured in the collapse, which was clearly a major failure of a ongoing project not expected to be completed until early 2019.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump was "aware" of the deadly pedestrian bridge collapse and would "offer whatever support is needed" to local officials.

Students and faculty have always been clamoring for a bridge at the 109th Street crossing, where students on foot have to get across seven lanes of jam-packed traffic that divide the campus from Sweetwater.

Florida International University is one of the largest public universities in Florida. An 18-year-old female FIU student from San Diego was killed while trying to cross the street near FIU last August, according to local media reports.

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