Authorities on Sunday released the names of the final victims from a deadly Miami, Florida bridge collapse. Five bodies were pulled from crushed cars and one man died at the hospital, bringing the total number of victims up to six. Authorities believe they have recovered all the bodies.
Police confirmed the deaths of Ronaldo Fraga Hernandez, Oswald Gonzalez and Alberto Arias. Navaro Brown, 37, who died at the hospital, was employed by a structural technology company. Brandon Brownfield was believed to be inside one of the other cars that was removed Saturday night. And 18-year-old Alexa Duran, a student at the university, was recovered from one of the vehicles Saturday night.
The families of the dead and the injured asked for privacy as they try to make sense of their sudden, inexplicable loss.
“It’s a pretty magical thing to find your soul mate in this world,” Brandon Brownfield’s wife, Chelsea, wrote on Facebook Sunday. “Like pieces to a jigsaw puzzle, our crazy curvy edges matched and we fit together like no one else could.”
The Brownfields had three young daughters, and the family moved to Florida several years ago for his job at Maxim Crane Works, according to a fundraising page a friend started for the family that had raised more than $50,000 in a few days. He was driving home from work when the bridge collapsed.
“I now have to find the words and the answers to tell my girls that their Daddy is not coming home,” his wife wrote on Facebook.
Gonzalez and Arias together owned a party rental and decoration business. Their bodies were found Saturday inside their white Chevy truck as rescuers for days painstakingly dug through the wreckage of the fallen pedestrian bridge at Florida International University. Hope for a miracle rescue faded as the names of the six dead became known, and those left living grappled with the senselessness, the suddenness of it.
Dania Garlobo was driving to work at a nail salon when the green light changed to yellow and a man in a white Mercedes tried to make it through the light, but stomped on the brakes just as the bridge fell in front of him.
“He was almost caught underneath. I couldn’t believe it,” Garlobo said. She watched the bridge smash into the street below in what seemed like an instant.
“How is it that a strong bridge falls down like a piece of board?
Llera had sped to the scene and arrived within minutes. In the mayhem, he found a man lying unconscious on the street and started performing CPR. He could barely feel a pulse, but someone with the medical staff from the university came by and said, “you are keeping him alive. Keep going.” And so he did, and the man was alive when they rushed him away.
Llera checked in at the hospital but could get no information. He thought the man had lived. He’d hoped they could shake hands one day.
But on Sunday morning, he studied a picture on the news of a young man in a crisp red shirt.
He has been identified by police as Brown, a 37-year-old employee with Structural Technologies VSL, listed among those killed. He had died at the hospital.
Duran was majoring in political science and looking forward to law school one day. Richie Humble, a 19-year-old student, had not been feeling well earlier in the week. On Thursday, a friend, Duran, the nicest person he said he ever knew, gave him a ride to his doctor’s office to pick up some medication. They stopped at a red light, under the bridge.
“I heard a creak, a long creak,” Humble told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “I looked up, and in an instant, the bridge was collapsing on us completely. It was too quick to do anything about it.”
Once he realized he was alive, he also realized that he couldn’t get to his friend. As he called out for her, getting no response, a group of men outside the car started yelling at him to try crawling out of the car. They pried open the door to free him.
He sat on a curb as rescue workers checked out the cuts on his leg and slight facture in a vertebrae. He remembers asking, “What do I do?”
“Everyone has to pick up the pieces,” he said the rescuer responded. “Life doesn’t stop.”
Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused the bridge to crumble. Cracking had been reported in the concrete span in the days before and crews were performing what’s called “post-tensioning force” on the bridge when it flatted onto the busy highway below.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday and once again said work on the walkway could have triggered Thursday’s collapse.
“There’s these rods that go inside, they are like cables and they were being tightened,” Rubio said. “They call it post tension application. And it is during that work that the bridge collapsed on the north end.”
“I think of the incompetence that you know put this whole thing together,” Duran’s uncle, Joe Smith, told CBS News’ Manuel Bojorquez. “It just you know, we can’t bring Alexa back, we can’t bring the others back.”
Classes will resume at FIU on Monday, and the school’s president said a moment of silence will be held at 1:47 p.m., the time the bridge collapsed.