Florida university campus opens days after 6 die in bridge collapse

Recovery operations took place Saturday at the site of the bridge collapse.
Recovery operations took place Saturday at the site of the bridge collapse.(Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/AP)

MIAMI — Students returning from spring break to Florida International University held a moment of silence Monday to honor the six people killed in the collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was supposed to be a campus showcase.

Some were angry that traffic had continued under the bridge while testing continued on the 950-ton structure.

‘‘They were stress testing with cars passing under, people walking across. Why?’’ said marine biology sophomore Andy Distrubell. ‘‘The thought of just sitting in traffic, waiting on a red light and all of a sudden a bridge falls on you is scary,’’ he said.

Mark Rosenberg, president of the university, joined students and staff to hold hands and bow their heads Monday for a moment of silence outdoors at 1:47 p.m. — the time that the bridge collapsed four days earlier. In a dining hall, some students stood up or put down their food and stopped talking to participate.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit was filed in Miami-Dade Circuit Court against the companies involved in the design and building of the bridge.


The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Marquise Rashaad Hepburn, who suffered spinal injuries as he rode a bicycle under the bridge as it collapsed. The lawsuit said cracks in the span should have been taken seriously and traffic should have been diverted during any testing.

At a news conference in Orlando, one of Hepburn’s attorneys, Keith Mitnik, said Hepburn was on his way to work when the bridge fell.

The negligence lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from the entities involved in building the bridge, including Munilla Construction Management and FIGG Bridge Engineers. Both companies say they would cooperate with multiple investigations into the collapse.

Governor Rick Scott on Monday directed Florida’s Department of Transportation to withhold payments of over $13.6 million in federal funding for the collapsed bridge, pending the completion of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation.


‘‘Before another dollar is spent on this bridge, we must know exactly what happened,’’ Scott said in a statement.