MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Students, faculty, and staff at Florida International University held a moment of silence Monday to remember the six people who died last week when a pedestrian bridge collapsed.
Heads down, some reached out for the hands of the person next to them when the clock hit 1:47 p.m., the same time the bridge came tumbling down last Thursday.
— Amber Diaz (@AmberDiazNews) March 19, 2018
Monday was the first day back to class for students and teachers after Spring Break.
FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg issued a statement which read in part:
“Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the victims’ families and all those who are affected. We know this will be a difficult week. We want to come together as a community to mourn, show the victims’ families our support and start on the path toward healing.”
“It feels really weird, it feels different, it’s not like your regular happy school day,” said returning student Stephanie Previl.
Previl saw the destruction first hand and said it was devastating.
“It’s a nasty feeling because you don’t think something like this is going to happen, the bridge was here and now it’s not,” she said.
For many of the students who live at 109 Towers in Sweetwater and cross 8th Street every day to get to the school, say despite what happened they still need a pedestrian bridge.
“It’s sad what happened and for the fact that they were making it safer and this happened. It’s tragic and sad, there’s nothing we can do about it, the bridge still has to be built, we need it, we can’t be crossing the street every day, so there’s mixed feelings,” said student Lili Marrero.
Many students and faculty travel the busy stretch of Southwest 8th Street on a regular basis, so the reality of the situation is quite jarring.
“I pass through that street everyday coming to school for the past four years,” said FIU senior Mariana Restrepo. “The fact that it happened during spring break, I kind of see it as a miracle.”
Some students were very distraught. It seemed the moment brought them more pain, finding it harder to move forward.
“It makes me sad and upset,” said sophomore Sebastian Cajmarca. “Seeing any other person like that makes me sad but it also makes me feel that there’s a chance for all of us to get closer and remember we’re a family, a Panther family. A family that sticks together no matter what, especially through tough times.”
Freshman Zach Lendzian showed up to pay his respects.
His parents couldn’t be there so they contributed to a GoFundMe page for victims’ families.
“I think we’ve raised over 1600 hundred dollars just form students over the past 3 days and we’re donating it all to the families that were affected,” Lendzian said. “I know that in the grand scheme of things it’s not that large of an amount of money but it’s important, like I said, to do the little things and show solidarity. Anything counts right? Anything counts.”
On Saturday, five of the victims were pulled from the 950 tons of steel and concrete rubble. The sixth person died at the hospital last Thursday.
Those killed in the collapse have been identified as Alexa Duran, Ronaldo Fraga Hernandez, Oswald Gonzalez, Alberto Arias, Navaro Brown, and Brandon Brownfield.
Duran was an FIU student who was majoring in political science and looking forward to law school one day. Brown, who worked for a structural technology company, was working on the bridge at the time of the collapse.
He was taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center but sadly, he died there.
On Tuesday, there will be a blood drive taking place on Tuesday, March 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 33, which is adjacent to the Graham Center Ballrooms on the FIU campus.
On Wednesday the FIU Student Government Association scheduled a vigil that will begin at 10 a.m. in the Graham Center Ballrooms.
The school asks anyone who would like to leave flowers or other items in remembrance of the victims, to do so after the vigil ends near the billboards located at the intersection of Southwest 107th Avenue and 8th Street.
Southwest 8th Street remains closed indefinitely between 107th Avenue and 117th Avenue as crews work to clear the bridge debris and reopen the road.
Additionally, the eastbound exits from the Florida Turnpike are also closed.