Sweetwater Bridge Collapse Leaves Six Dead



Emergency personnel respond to people near a collapsed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University on Thursday, March 15, 2018, in the Miami area. The brand-new pedestrian bridge collapsed onto a highway crushing multiple vehicles and killing several people. (WTVJ NBC6 via AP)

By Jimmy He, Staff Writer

Six confirmed deaths and many injuries were reported after the FIU-Sweetwater Pedestrian Bridge near the Florida International University collapsed on March 15th, 2018.

The collapse occurred while the bridge was being tightened, immediately resulting in eight crushed cards and nine people rushed to the hospital.

All six of the victims of the bridge collapse was recently identified. The victims include 18-year-old Alexa Duran, 39-year-old Brandon Brownfield, 37-year-old Navarro Brown, 53-year-old Alberto Arias, and 57-year-old Oswald Gonzalez, Rolando Fraga Hernandez.

The Sweetwater bridge, spanning 174 feet and containing over 900 tons of concrete, was designed to be built with the Accelerated Bridge Construction technique, or ABC, and was installed earlier the same week on March 10th during an installation period lasting only a few hours.

It was reported that just hours before the collapse, a meeting was held by the bridge’s engineering company, Figg Bridge Engineers, to discuss a reported crack in the bridge’s structure. However, a technical presentation delivered by the company presented a statement concluding that “there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge.”

The 14.2 million dollar bridge was part of a 19.4 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and was an attempt to make the street safer after a student was killed by a vehicle the previous year.

Ironically, according to a fact sheet on the FIU’s website, the Sweetwater Bridge was designed to last over 100 years, as well as being able to withstand a level five hurricane.

When asked for their opinion on the circumstances of the bridge collapse, many WHHS students responded with distaste. Freshman Gabby Goldman responded, saying that “Whoever built the bridge honestly did a very bad job.”

Freshman Jessica Tozzi added that the company who built the bridge “need to make a change so that it can’t happen again.”

The Sweetwater Bridge collapse has been a tragedy for all those affected as officials are still trying to find out what exactly went wrong in the construction or design of the bridge that led to its eventual collapse.