Longtime couple Osvaldo González and Alberto Arias were moving Arias’ elderly mother into their Kendall home Thursday when a pedestrian bridge by Florida International University collapsed.
The men, who also owned party rental business Classic Design Party Rental together, had shared breakfast with Arias’ mother that morning before heading out to run errands, and move more of her belongings from her apartment to their home.
“I know he told my grandma, ‘I love you,’ they hugged. [He said,] ‘make me something to eat tonight, picadillo,’ because that was his favorite,” said Arias’ nephew, Luis Arias.
But as news spread of the collapse of the bridge that afternoon, Arias’ mother, who knew it was likely they were driving east on Tamiami Trail, became worried and started calling her son’s cell phone frantically.
“They called so much that then the phone was not ringing anymore,” said the family’s attorney, Yesenia Collazo. “She said she knew when he didn’t pick up her phone call and they saw his vehicle on the news.”
The deaths of González, 57, and Arias, 53, were confirmed to the family by police on Saturday afternoon, after their white Chevy truck was pulled out from under the bridge debris in the morning.
“Imagine, his car was as flat as a cracker,” González’s sister, Marisol González, told the Herald Saturday.
She said her brother had plans to travel to Cuba last weekend to participate in street parties known as parrandas in his hometown of Camajuaní, in the center of the island. González and Arias had traveled extensively, including to Cuba many times, as well Spain and Italy, their families said.
Both were “outstanding beings, full of life, full of joy, always smiling, and always putting others before them,” Luis Arias said.
“[Osvaldo González] was the best thing in the world,” his sister, Marisol González said. “The best brother, friend, very cheerful, with a desire to live life to the fullest.”
Amauri Naranjo, with whom González would stay when he visited Camajuaní, described his longtime friend as a genuinely nice person who very active.
“He was a family man,” Naranjo said in a telephone interview from the island. “He had many friends because he was very communicative and he would help a lot of people here and he would also help with decorating the floats for the parrandas.”
González arrived in the United States during the 1980 Mariel exodus and helped Arias out of the country, Naranjo said from Camajuaní, a town in the province of Villa Clara.
González and Arias founded Classic Designer's Party Rentals in 2000, according to the company's Facebook page.
Alberto Arias studied at the University of Havana in Cuba, according to his Facebook page. Arias regularly posted videos of vocal performances, particularly love songs.
“Life is really something,” Elizabeth Morales, Arias’ cousin, posted on Facebook in Spanish. “Just yesterday, I was 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.”
Both families of González and Arias are filing a lawsuit against the companies involved in the collapse of the bridge, hoping to get answers as to why the roadway was open at the time of the incident. The couple, who were “soul mates,” Luis Arias said, will be buried together.
“They were together for 21 years — they were partners,” Arias said. “They were together in their ups they were together in their downs, they were together in their travels and enjoying life and they will be together when they are laid to rest.”