Friends of Alexa Duran, the 18-year-old FIU freshman killed in the collapse, comfort each other during the moment of silence on the day on which most of the students have returned to school after the spring break.
MIAMI – Thousands of students at Florida International University return to classes Monday after spring break, faced with the aftermath of last week’s deadly bridge collapse for the first time.
Thursday’s tragedy left six dead and 10 injured in the brand-new 950-ton, 174 cm long prefabricated bridge broke into pieces and crashed, trapping eight cars underneath.
On campus, reactions ranged from shock to anger.
“It was definitely different to walk to the campus of today. I saw people walk in with heavy shoulders and the head down,” said Alexandria Mauri. “The bridge was supposed to be a step in the right direction to keep, the students safe. I thought it was going to be a good thing, but it just didn’t work that way.”
Hundreds gathered Monday around the Graham Center, the university of the main hub, at 1:47 pm to remember the people who lost their lives on Thursday.
“No one has ever expected that it is on the verge of collapse,” said the student, Keith Velasquez. “A few of my classmates had to step out of the room when we are talking about today.”
The college was on spring break the week of the collapse.
The school said in a statement over the weekend that “while operational Monday will be a normal day at FIU, the life (Modesto A. Maidique Campus) will be far from normal. As a university community, we continue to mourn the victims of the bridge accident.”
At 1:47 pm, the time of the Thursday collapse, a moment of silence was observed for the campus.
Outside of the Graham Center, a hub for student activities and events, FIU President Mark Rosenberg, joined students, teachers and staff to remember the victims of the collapse, including the 18-year-old freshman Alexa Duran.
The students walk to class on their first day back from spring break, faced with the aftermath of Thursday’s tragic bridge collapse.
Doreen Patichi said she drives down the street and the bridge span every day.
“It would be me,” she said, “the south-West of Eighth Street is probably one of the busiest streets I have ever had in my life… the whole point of the bridge was the creation of security, which is ironic, because it did the opposite.”
As one of the largest public universities in the country, FIE has enrollment numbers of more than 55,000. As the school has grown, so has the traffic problems in the area.
Before it collapsed, the highly touted FIU-Sweetwater UniversityCity bridge planned for next year was expected to be a crown jewel of the main campus in west Miami-Dade, offering a safe opportunity for students to cross the eight lanes of the heavily congested traffic along the main entrance of the campus, a notorious obstacle that plagued the school and the surrounding communities for years with hit-and-run accidents, and most recently, a death.
In August 2017, Alexis Dale, a freshman, was killed when she was hit by a car as she crossed the street of the new bridge was built over.
FIE wanted to prevent accidents such as what happened to Dale happens again, so that the school and the neighboring City of Sweetwater construction of the new bridge.
“Thank God I the city was because at that time I would pass under that bridge for the classroom,” said Roger Sanchez, a junior master in mechanical engineering. Sanchez said that in his technical classes, he’s learned that safety is the main priority. “We make things that people are going to use, we do not want them risking their lives.
When asked if the students wants a bridge built, Angely Ortiz said, “I think that if they are in the construction of an additional bridge, the students are afraid to use it. I will be afraid to cross another bridge, even if they say that it is safer. If you want to build a bridge, make sure it is done properly.”
Last week, the bridge collapse occurred adjacent to the many buildings on Florida International University campus.
The cause of the bridge failure is still under investigation, including officials from the National Transportation Safety Board, which has confirmed that the crew were to apply what is known as “post-tension” on the bridge cables for the collapse.
On Friday, the officials said that a bridge engineer left a voice mail with the Florida Department of Transportation, two days before the collapse, reporting cracks on one side of the concrete span, but the voicemail was not received until after the accident.
NTSB officials are investigating the report, but says that it is not clear or cracks contributed to the bridge catastrophic failure.
Rosenberg has also announced an independent investigation into the collapse of the university.
A blood drive for the victims is being treated in the hospital is scheduled for Tuesday. The school of the student government Association is holding a vigil for the victims on Wednesday and Duran’s sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, will host a memorial ceremony Thursday evening.
Allie Raffa is a multimedia reporter for Fox News based in Tampa.