MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Three bodies in two vehicles were pulled Saturday morning from the concrete debris of the Florida International University bridge collapse.
Miami-Dade deputy mayor Maurice Kemp said at a press conference that their primary goal is to remove the victims and the trapped vehicles. He said in last Thursday’s collapse there were eight vehicles trapped. Two sustained heavy damage to either their front or rear. Six of the vehicles he described as being “significantly entangled” and four of those would be difficult to extract.
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said crews worked around the clock to free the two vehicles Saturday morning. They were then transferred to flatbed tow trucks and given an escort to the Medical Examiner’s Office where the bodies would be removed and positively identified. Perez said when the vehicles were freed from the debris, a moment of silence was held in honor of the lives lost.
Miami-Dade police have identified the three bodies recovered from the rubble as Rolando Fraga Hernandez, 57-year-old Oswald Gonzalez, and 53-year-old Alberto Arias. Fraga Hernandez was in one vehicle, Gonzalez and Arias were in the other.
Police have also identified a fourth victim as Navarro Brown.
Late in the day they recovered a third car but did not say if they found more remains.
Kemp said of the six deaths reported, the three victims recovered Saturday were accounted for in that estimate. He added that there may be more bodies in the two remaining vehicles that they had not anticipated.
Perez said they were attempting the simultaneous extraction of two trapped vehicles and it would take approximately 12 hours. He added that it could take longer depending on the conditions encountered by the crews.
“It’s going to be a long process” to remove the remaining vehicles, Perez said, “because of the weight and size of the structure that is laying on top of these vehicles.”
When asked about a loud cracking sound that was heard before the bridge collapsed, Perez said that will be part of the parallel investigations that are underway between the county, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). He added that the NTSB was the real experts when it came to structural deficiencies and he would not comment on the ‘cracking’ noise until the NTSB had completed their investigation.
FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg said the Family Resource Center has been providing support and assistance to families anxiously awaiting word on their loved ones and the first responders who have tirelessly worked at the site.
Kemp said once the all of the trapped vehicles and victims are completely removed, they will work as expeditiously as possible to remove the remaining rubble. This process will take some time.
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez said until that time, SW 8th Street will remain closed between 107th and 117th Avenues.
Drivers are asked to avoid the area. Sanchez said additional signs have been brought in to assist drivers with detour routes. Additionally, he asked that when FIU students return to class on Monday that they carpool to avoid additional vehicles on the roads in the area.