LGBTQ South Florida

They lived and died together. After a prayer, bridge victims were buried minutes apart

Family and friends carry the remains of one of the deceased during the funeral of Alberto Arias and Osvaldo González, partners who died in the collapse of the FIU pedestrian bridge last week.
Family and friends carry the remains of one of the deceased during the funeral of Alberto Arias and Osvaldo González, partners who died in the collapse of the FIU pedestrian bridge last week. rkoltun@miamiherald.com

After spending more than 20 years together — a life spent traveling the world and spreading joy through their party-rental business — the Cuban couple killed in last week’s bridge failure near Florida International University was laid to rest Wednesday morning.

Alberto Arias, 53, and Osvaldo González, 57, were buried within minutes of each other at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn South in Kendall. The families of both men laid flowers on their caskets and recited prayers before cemetery workers lowered them into adjacent plots.

“We will always love you,” read a ribbon tied around a bouquet of flowers nearby.

The men were running errands for Arias’ mother when they were caught underneath a pedestrian bridge meant to connect FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique campus to the city of Sweetwater over Southwest Eighth Street. They died instantly, according to the families’ attorney, inside their flattened, white Chevrolet truck, but their deaths were not confirmed until Saturday afternoon.

Four others died. The cause of the collapse remains under investigation, but two civil suits already have been filed in Miami Dade County’s 11th Circuit Court on behalf of victims injured in the accident. Yesenia Collazo, the attorney representing the Arias and González families, said on Tuesday that the families wanted to wait until after the burials to file litigation. Calls to Gonzalez’s office were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

Marquise Hepburn, 24, who filed suit on Monday, said he was injured after a car struck him underneath the bridge as it began to collapse, according to his lawsuit. Emily Joy Panagos, 22, an FIU student whose car was struck by the bridge, filed suit on Tuesday. Both lawsuits were filed by Matt Morgan and his Orlando-based personal injury law office, Morgan & Morgan.

The families of Alberto Arias and Osvaldo González, who were killed in the FIU bridge collapse Thursday, announced they will be filing a lawsuit on Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

At least 100 mourners attended a short religious service preceding the Arias and González burials. At the front of the room, bouquets of white flowers adorned the two caskets. Displayed between the caskets was a photograph of Arias and Gonzalez together, wearing matching blue shirts.

Outside, attendees took long puffs of their cigarettes before joining the crowd in a slow procession through the cemetery. Two black Cadillac hearses carried the caskets to their plots.

Luis Arias, Alberto’s nephew, called the men “beautiful beings” and “soul mates” during a news conference on Tuesday at Collazo’s Doral office.

“It’s been rough, it’s been hard,” Arias said, joined by González’s sister and nephew. “We’re staying united as they were, being there for each other and supporting each other as we get through this difficult time.”

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