MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the moments after the FIU bridge collapse, many people were running away from the scene.
For former Sweetwater officer Jenna Mendez her training kicked in. She ran toward the chaos.
“I jumped onto the structure where there was four construction workers. There were two that were unconscious. One was not breathing,” Mendez told the Miami Herald in an interview just days after the incident.
She recalled the traumatic moments she witnessed, “I started screaming to the crowd ‘please I need help’. I need fire rescue. I need doctors. Anyone who can come and help me.”
Six people died when the massive pedestrian bridge collapsed the busy roadway below. Many families filed lawsuits that appear to be headed toward settlements.
The trauma Mendez experienced that day continues to haunt her today.
So much so, she has filed a 228-page lawsuit against more than two dozen entities responsible for the FIU bridge project.
Mendez claims that their negligence caused her to “suffer bodily injury and severe and extreme emotional distress, including PTSD, and resulting physical manifestations, disability, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of medical and psychological care and treatment, loss of earnings, loss of the ability to earn money.”
According to the Miami Herald, Mendez had to be put on leave following the tragedy and was eventually fired by the city.
Dr. Spencer Eth is a psychiatrist at the University of Miami is not surprised by what has happened.
“Although they are trained this has a tremendous emotional impact on anybody coming into contact with people who have been severely injured or killed,” he said.
Dr. Eth, who treated many of the first responders after 9/11 in New York, told us that many first responders develop depression, and fears associated with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Although many first responders are able to heal following their exposure to mass disaster, many are not. Many are not able to heal. Many in fact get worse as time passes.”
CBS Miami reached out to Mendez and her attorney for comment. Neither responded.
So far, the lawsuit continues to move forward, despite multiple attempts to dismiss the case.