Florida Bridge Collapse May Lead to Criminal Charges

Death toll is confirmed at 6, expected to rise
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2018 4:50 PM CDT
Crushed cars are shown under a section of a collapsed pedestrian bridge, Friday, March 16, 2018 near Florida International University in the Miami area.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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(Newser)

“It’s obviously an accident," the Miami Herald quotes Juan Perez as saying of Thursday's deadly pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University. "We have to look to see if somebody contributed to that accident.” The Miami-Dade police chief says criminal charges are possible after the brand-new bridge collapsed, killing at least six people. “We’ve got to look at the reality that there may be some negligence down the line,” Perez says. Local police are investigating, as are the National Transportation Board and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, among others. Munilla Construction Management, one of the companies behind the bridge, has 11 safety violations since 2013, Time reports. Another company behind the bridge, FIGG Bridge Group, was fined $28,000 in 2012 after a bridge collapsed onto train tracks in Virginia.

The number of dead—which includes at least one FIU student—is expected to increase, the BBC reports. The 950-ton bridge collapsed onto an eight-lane roadway, and Perez says they're still trying to clear away ruble to get at the dead trapped in cars. “We just want to get those bodies out of there so [families] can have their loved ones one last time," he says. As of Friday morning at least five bodies were confirmed to be trapped under the bridge, but it could be more. The $14.2 million bridge was installed in just six hours on Saturday using "accelerated bridge construction" to avoid disrupting traffic. Its central support tower and suspension cables hadn't yet been installed at the time of the collapse, NPR reports. One thing investigators are looking at is if it was a good idea to install the 174-foot bridge before the central tower. (Read more bridge collapse stories.)

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