The Florida bridge that collapsed on Thursday was an “innovative” design with the speed of construction specifically in mind, according to the Miami Herald. The bridge was designed as an “instant” bridge that was dropped into place after it was built offsite. This is unlike other bridge construction where the structure is built in the place it is meant to stay. The reason for this need of a speedy construction was to minimize the disruption to the commuter traffic below it, which is a major thoroughfare.
The span of concrete weighing 950 tons was lowered into place on Saturday, measuring 174-feet across the eight lanes of traffic below. On Thursday the workers were tightening the cables on the bridge when at the same time those eight lanes below the bridge had traffic moving in a steady flow. The “instant bridge” came crashing down, crushing the people in their cars who happened to be directly beneath the structure. Miami-Dad Mayor Carlos Gimenez said employees were “conducting a stress test on the unfinished and vulnerable bridge,” reports Fox News.
The bridge was far from its completion date, as it wasn’t projected to be finished until sometime next year. This massive span of this “instant” bridge suffered “a sudden, catastrophic failure,” as it “crashed down across eight lanes of heavily traveled Tamiami Trail, flattening eight cars,” according to the Miami Herald.
The official death toll is at six today with 10 people reported hospitalized and two of those injured are listed in “critical condition,” reports Fox News. The Miami Herald reports “the 10 injured patients ranged in age from 20 to 50 years old.” The search and rescue crews are still working to get to all the cars crushed under the tons of concrete. According to Fox & Friends live coverage on Friday morning, bodies still remain inside those crushed vehicles this morning as the painstaking task of removing the debris to get to them is underway.
The stories coming from all the witnesses paint a picture of a heartwrenching chaos. One woman, who owns a restaurant along with her husband across the street from the bridge told Fox News host Shepard Smith her story. They ran to the bridge and while her husband tried to do CPR on a construction worker who was still tied to the collapsed bridge by his harness, she tried to help free people from their cars. She spotted one boy in the backseat of the car with the driver and passenger clearly dead after seeing the front of the car crushed.
Lianet Sado, who owns a restaurant near the bridge which collapsed, told Shepard Smith on Fox News that she saw a child begging for help from inside a crushed vehicle. She told Smith:
“There was a car that was completely crushed on the front part, so it was very safe to assume, unfortunately, that the driver and co-pilot were both crushed completely,” Sado said. “But then there was this young boy in the back of the car, full of blood, and basically begging for someone to help him. And that’s something I’m not going to be able to get out of my head because I’m a mother of a kid, too.”
She said police quickly moved her away from the scene and the fate of that young boy today is unknown. The search and rescue event is still underway as there are vehicles that haven’t been reached yet under all the rubble.