The pedestrian bridge that collapsed at Florida International University on Thursday killed at least six people, and the tightening of loose cables may have contributed to the fatal accident.
The 174-foot, 950-ton section of the bridge collapsed on Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 109th Avenue early Thursday afternoon, crushing at least eight cars beneath the rubble. The $14.2 million bridge was being built by Munilla Construction Management and was designed by FIGG Bridge Engineers.
A police investigation is underway now that the search-and-rescue operation has become a recovery and investigative operation, authorities said during a press conference at FIU Friday morning. The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation that could take between five to seven days, chairman Robert Sumwalt said. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also conducting its own investigation.
Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that the cables suspending the bridge had loosened, and that the engineering firm ordered they be tightened. Rubio tweeted that the cables were being tightened when the bridge collapsed.
News reports have indicated a stress test was performed earlier in the day on Thursday, but Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan Perez said during the press conference he had not confirmed whether the test occured and if it contributed to the collapse. Authorities only confirmed the death of an FIU student and the death of someone at a nearby hospital, and said they did not know how many victims were still under the bridge. Construction workers were among the injured, according to the Associated Press.
Despite speculation surrounding the accelerated construction methods used to lower the portion of the bridge into place less than a week ago, Perez and others confirmed little on Friday morning. Perez said criminal charges were a possibility, but “we’re not there yet.”