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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A South Florida woman who was injured in the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse that left six people dead, is planning to file a lawsuit.
“As many of you know that day was like any other for any person, never expecting for something so traumatic so horrible to happen,” explained Katrina Collazo De Armas on Friday sitting next to her attorney Spencer Aronfeld.
Aronfeld called the news conference to announce an intention to sue.
“I just remember sitting in my car hearing things fall on my car and as soon as I looked back, I see the bridge crashing on my car and completely damaging the back part of the car including my daughter’s car seat,” De Armas emotionally recalled. “As soon as I saw that, it was incredible, she was not there. I am so grateful right now that my daughter was not in my car that day because if she was, she wouldn’t be here right now.”
The 950-ton pedestrian bridge collapsed on March 15 onto the middle of SW 8th Street, crushing cars and lives.
“This has been something I can’t even begin to explain how traumatic the situation has been to me and my family. I can barely sleep. I don’t have words that can explain that day,” she said. “On top of all this, it has affected me and my job, I haven’t been able to go back to work, I’m experiencing back pain and neck pain and so many things that all of this has caused and just because of not wanting to close that road or whatever other things they didn’t do correctly that day.”
Federal investigators confirmed Wednesday that workers were adjusting a tension rod on a newly installed portion of the pedestrian bridge when it collapsed. The National Transportation Safety Board said that workers were adjusting a second tension rod on the north end of the span after having done the same on the south end just before.
When completed, the bridge was to span a highway and canal and connect Florida International University’s campus to the neighboring community of Sweetwater.
“We were just passing by, we were just passing by. This was never supposed to happen. Never is a person expecting something like this to happen and it’s been just really tough to deal with all of this. Right now, I’m being treated with a neurologist to see everything because I’m feeling numbness in my arm and leg and it’s just, it’s just incredible,” said De Armas.
She told CBS4’s Peter D’OENCH, “I want to know how this happened. I want an answer for all of the victims. This was not fair. I can’t believe they didn’t close the road when they were doing stress tests. In a way, I feel the victims were part of me because I could have been with them right now.”
Aronfeld said, “We feel there was sufficient evidence that traffic should have never been open after cracks were detected. That traffic should have been diverted and should have been stopped until it was determined that everything was safe. This was a preventable tragedy. A decision was made to put profits ahead of safety and we need to hold those people accountable who made those decisions.”
The family of one of the victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday in state court. The lawsuit filed on behalf of the son and wife of victim Rolando Fraga seeks unspecified damages from Munilla Construction Management and FIGG Bridge Engineers, the two main entities involved in the bridge construction.
The lawsuit claims the two companies were negligent because they had warning that a public safety hazard existed and the flow of traffic beneath the bridge should have been shut down while work was being performed.
Several other lawsuits also have been filed since the collapse.