A 19-year-old student who was riding in the same car as a woman who was killed when the Florida International University (FIU) pedestrian bridge collapsed on March 15, filed a lawsuit against the engineering and construction companies responsible for its design.
Alexa Duran, 18, was driving while Richard Humble was riding in the passenger seat of an SUV when the 950-ton pedestrian bridge crashed down on top of them. The two were driving home from a doctor’s appointment at the time.
Humble says the deadly event happened fast. After the slabs of concrete and debris smashed the vehicle, he ran searching for his friend, calling her name. But he would learn the following day that Duran was one of the six people killed in the tragic accident.
Humble filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Miami-Dade Circuit court, naming FIGG Bridge Engineers and Munilla Construction Management, according to reports.
The lawsuit states that the student is seeking damages for “past and future pain and suffering, loss of the capacity for the enjoyment of life, aggravation of pre-existing conditions, rehabilitation expenses and past and future mental distress, which has manifested itself in physical injuries, including headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, debilitating phobias and ongoing nightmares.”
Duran’s family has also filed a lawsuit.
At least three other similar suits have been filed on behalf of victims and their families. So far, none of the legal filings name FIU or the Florida Department of Transportation, due to a law granting them “sovereign immunity,” which means lawyers must give them a minimum of 180 days notice before filing a suit.
March 15, 2018
Five days ago a 950-ton modular portion of a new pedestrian bridge was “swung” into place on the campus of Florida International University (FIU) at 109th Avenue and 8th Street in Sweetwater, near Miami, Florida. On Thursday afternoon, the bridge collapsed, killing at least one person, and crushing a reported eight vehicles with an unknown number of occupants.
“We do know that there are 8 vehicles that they can see that are under there,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Joe Martinez. “In reality, nobody can tell you if it was a vehicle that only had a driver or had a driver and 4 passengers. So, when you’re asking about numbers, we really don’t know.”
Kendall Regional Medical Center confirms that they have two patients in critical condition and 8 others in stable condition. Additional patients were taken to other hospitals.
According to an FIU Twitter page, the last individual was pulled from the wreckage at about 4 p.m. Thursday. Rescue efforts are expected to remain underway throughout the night and clean up of the area will continue until it is once again deemed safe for travel.
Exactly how or why the bridge failure occurred is under investigation. Reports of engineering failure as well as a “stress test” being performed are also being investigated. MCM Civil Department and FIGG Bridge Engineers partnered to design and build the bridge, according to NBC 6.
The goal of the pedestrian bridge was to make transportation easier and safer for students and the community. In August 2017, incoming FIU freshman Alexis Dale was killed by a car while crossing 8th street.
The University stated that the modular construction method would reduce potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians, while minimizing traffic interruptions.
FIU issued the following statement: “We are shocked and saddened about the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge.”