Victims of the FIU bridge collapse
The Florida International University pedestrian bridge that collapsed Thursday trapped at least eight vehicles that had stopped underneath it for a red light.
Ten people were taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center, one victim died at the hospital, and at least five others have been confirmed dead by authorities. Three of those bodies were retrieved from the rubble Saturday morning.
The bridge was intended to give FIU students a safe way to cross Tamiami Trail and was part of a project to link FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus to the city of Sweetwater, where several thousand students live. The walkway had not yet opened to student traffic.
Miami-Dade Police confirmed the names of five of the six victims. Family members identified others. Here are their stories:
Alexa Duran, 18
Florida International University student Alexa Duran was driving her gray Toyota SUV under the bridge when it collapsed, trapping her car beneath the rubble.
Her father, Orlando Duran, confirmed 18-year-old Alexa’s death to el Nuevo Herald Friday.
“My little girl was trapped in the car and couldn’t get out. She died when the bridge collapsed on top of her car,” Duran said in Spanish, speaking from London, where he was traveling when he got the news.
“This is going to be the longest and saddest trip of my life. I don’t want to return,” he said as he waited for his flight home.
Navaro Brown, 37
Navaro Brown, 37, an employee with Structural Technologies VSL, was among the victims of the bridge collapse, confirmed company spokesman Michael Biesiada Friday. Two other employees of the company were hospitalized at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami in stable condition, he added.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Brown’s family and with the other affected employees,” he said. “We really appreciate the work of the first responders who immediately offered their help.”
Brown’s cousin, Appleonia Brown, posted on Facebook that Brown was from Mocho, Clarendon, Jamaica. He was a “hard-working, humble youth,” Appleonia Brown wrote.
Brandon Brownfield was a husband, a father and a tower crane technician at Maxim Crane Works, according to his Facebook profile.
Ryan Lee, a friend who created a GoFundMe page for the family, described Brownfield as a “genuine stand-up family man” in an online post. As of Sunday, the page had collected nearly $50,000 in donations to help the family.
Lee said Brownfield and his wife, Chelsea, moved to South Florida a few years ago and had recently bought a house in Homestead. The couple has three daughters, ages 10 months to 5 years.
Chelsea confirmed on Facebook Sunday that her “husband was tragically taken from us.”
“Please keep us in your prayers, as I now have to find the words and the answers to tell my girls that their Daddy is not coming home,” she wrote.
Rolando Fraga Hernandez, 60
Rolando Fraga was a systems technician at ITG Communications and worked as a truck driver, according to his Facebook profile. He was from San José de las Lajas, a town south of Havana, Cuba, and lived in Miami. He also lived in Caracas, Venezuela.
His home is near FIU and he often took the nearby turnpike to work, relatives told The Associated Press.
The day before the accident, Fraga shared a quote in Spanish on his Facebook page: “Nothing is forever. Coffee gets cold, people leave, time passes and people change.”
Osvaldo Gonzalez, 57
Osvaldo (Ozzie) González, 57, had plans to travel to Cuba this weekend to participate in street parties known as parrandas in his hometown of Camajuaní, in the center of the island.
Instead, he met his death on Thursday, when the pedestrian bridge that was to link Florida International University to the city of Sweetwater collapsed.
Marisol González confirmed on Saturday that her brother's body was already in the morgue, after being removed from a white van that was pulled out from under the bridge debris in the morning.
“Imagine, his car was as flat as a cracker,” she said.
Alberto Arias, 54
Alberto Arias studied at the University of Havana in Cuba, according to his Facebook page.
“What is it about life that I was yesterday praying to God for the people who were there [at the collapsed bridge] without knowing that one of ours was there. R.I.P, cousin. A great human being,” Elizabeth Morales posted on Facebook on midnight Friday.
Miami Herald staff writers Martin Vassolo, Rene Rodriguez, Monique O. Madan and Joey Flechas contributed to this report.