A pedestrian walkway in Miami, Florida collapsed on Thursday, March 15, 2018, killing 6 people according to officials.
The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the fatalities after multiple vehicles were crushed by the span near Florida International University’s campus.
The walkway weighed 950 tons and was 174 feet long, according to FIU.
The bridge was scheduled to open early next year and was designed to withstand hurricane-force winds. The bridge was built across the seven-lane Tamiami Trail, connecting the FIU campus to the town of Sweetwater, where the university estimates some 4,000 students live.
“We are shocked and saddened by the tragic events unfolding at the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge,” the university said in a statement. “At this time we are still involved in rescue efforts and gathering information.”
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department said they were working to secure the structure while searching for victims.
“I was three seconds away from being under the bridge, but I looked forward. All of a sudden I saw the bridge collapse, and it started from the left side of the bridge and it really shocked me,” said Susie Bermudez.
“There’s probably like seven or eight cars under the bridge so it was very shocking to me, and I’m very grateful to be alive,” she added.
Jose Mejia, who lives in Sweetwater, told MSNBC that he heard a loud bang and then rushed to the scene with police where he saw numerous cars trapped under the bridge.
“There was a young gentleman in a red Honda, and unfortunately there was nothing I could do, but he stuck his hand out and, at that point, he passed away, he expired,” Mejia said.
Rick Scott, the governor of Florida said he had spoken to Miami-Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez about the collapse and would remain “in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day.”
I have spoken with Miami-Dade County Police Chief Juan Perez about the pedestrian bridge collapse at FIU. I will be in constant communication with law enforcement throughout the day.
— Rick Scott (@FLGovScott) March 15, 2018
Scott’s press office said that he would be traveling to FIU on Thursday evening to be briefed on further details.
First-of-its-kind pedestrian bridge “swings” into place. “FIU is about building bridges and student safety. This project accomplishes our mission beautifully,” -President Mark B. Rosenberg. https://t.co/x8gPM9A4DG #worldsahead pic.twitter.com/mPEMeh2zmw
— FIU (@FIU) March 10, 2018
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary told reporters that President Donald Trump was aware of the bridge collapse and would provide government resources as needed.
The National Transportation Safety Board said that it would send a team to investigate the collapse.
The bridge was lifted off its temporary support and placed in its permanent position on Saturday.
The $11.4 million bridge was meant to connect the school to the city of Sweetwater. It is part of a $124 million expansion of the campus.
It was built and designed by Munilla Construction Management in partnership with FIGG Bridge Engineers, the college said.
— Munilla Construction (@WeAreMCM) March 15, 2018
In a statement posted on Twitter, MCM said they would “conduct a full investigation to determine exactly went wrong.
— Monique O. Madan (@MoniqueOMadan) March 15, 2018
Another person posted a photo of the bridge, adding that she had just driven under it before it fell.
Student Damany Reed, who is a sophomore at FIU, tells PEOPLE: “I was sitting in my apartment with my girlfriend watching Netflix and suddenly we heard a series of booms. It wasn’t just one. A lot of people sprung into action.”
According to Reed, the busy eight-lane highway below the bridge was deemed extremely dangerous, and that just last year someone was killed while attempting to cross it.
“Some kids don’t have patience to wait for the light, so they run when it’s still yellow,” he says. “The bridge was built for safety reasons.”
Read more at NBC News