Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg delivered a somber video message about the FIU bridge collapse Thursday that killed at least six people and injured 10 others.
In the 45-second video shared early Friday morning on Twitter, he spoke of the anguish that came from building something to protect the students and FIU community, and how it turned into a massive catastrophe in a split second.
“Yesterday's tragic accident of the bridge collapse stuns us, it saddens us, it's exactly the opposite of what we intended, and we want to express our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of those who have been affected,” he said as he sat behind his desk.
At least one of those killed was a female FIU student whom officials have not publicly identified.
In addition to the video, the university announced it would reopen Friday and will offer counseling resources for students, faculty and staff. The school is on spring break, and classes won’t resume until Monday.
The FIU Center for Children and Families is offering free individual consultations for families with children who may have been affected by the bridge collapse. Students are encouraged to reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services. Faculty and staff can contact the Office of Employee Assistance.
“Today is a dark day in our history,” Rosenberg wrote in an email to the FIU community. “Just five days ago, we stood on 8th Street, united in celebration. Tonight we grieve for all the victims of the bridge collapse.”
On Saturday, the university dropped the new elevated pedestrian span into place. The bridge was being built to make it safer to cross Southwest Eighth Street after an FIU student, Alexis Dale, was hit and killed by a driver while crossing the same intersection — Eighth Street and 109th Avenue.
“The bridge was about collaboration about neighborliness about doing the right thing,” Rosenberg said in the video. “But today we are sad. And all we can do is promise a very thorough investigation, getting to the bottom of this and mourn those who we have lost.”
The university is also trying to figure out how to navigate the closing of Southwest Eighth Street for an extended period of time due to the investigation and the clean-up. Southwest Eighth Street from 107th Avenue to 117th Avenue will remain closed until further notice. The Eighth Street exit off the Florida Turnpike will also be closed indefinitely. The road borders the school.
Rosenberg said the university would run shuttles between Lot 3 in front of the Student Academic Success Center and the Fourth Street Commons Building in Sweetwater, and that shuttles would run every 20 minutes. The shuttles will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, and on Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. Shuttles won’t be available Saturday.
He ended the video with a simple, “Thank you.”