Arrived before witnesses could finish 911 calls
MIAMI (AP) — Police and rescue workers arrived at the scene of a pedestrian bridge collapse near a Florida university campus even before witnesses could finish making 911 calls for help, according to audio files released Thursday.
Miami-Dade Police released 15 calls made to 911 dispatchers in the moments after the collapse on March 15.
Sirens could be heard blaring behind several frantic callers moments after the 950-ton (860-metric ton) structure fell into traffic.
“Oh, my gosh. A lot of cars are under the bridge,” one woman told a 911 dispatcher.
She started crying and added, “Hurry up, please,” before realizing police had arrived at the scene.
Another woman said in a shaken voice that she was driving to work when the bridge fell in front of her.
“There are dead people,” she said in Spanish to the dispatcher.
A male caller told a dispatcher the bridge had collapsed across the whole eight-lane roadway.
“They just put it up, they were working on it, and it collapsed into the middle of the road. We’ve got a big, big deal here,” he said.
“It’s a big, big, mess,” he said, adding the police were already at the scene.
The dispatcher asked if anyone was injured.
“From what I see, it must have hurt somebody,” he said.
The bridge was intended to span a busy roadway between Florida International University and the neighboring city of Sweetwater. The collapse killed six people.
The family of one of the victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday in state court. The lawsuit filed on behalf of the son and wife of victim Rolando Fraga seeks unspecified damages from Munilla Construction Management and FIGG Bridge Engineers, the two main entities involved in the bridge construction.
The lawsuit claims the two companies were negligent because they had warning that a public safety hazard existed and the flow of traffic beneath the bridge should have been shut down while work was being performed.
Several other lawsuits also have been filed since the collapse.
By Freida Frisaro and Jennifer Kay of the Associated Press. Associated Press writers Jason Dearen in Gainesville, Florida, and Curt Anderson in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, contributed to this report.