The fatal incident occurred around 2:00 PM Thursday when a 960-ton bridge collapsed onto southwest Eighth Street. Initial reports revealed at least eight vehicles became trapped under the structure.
Authorities announced Friday morning that the death toll had reached six, adding that more victims may still be buried in the rubble. It’s been revealed that at least one of the victims was a Florida International University student.
The 175-foot pedestrian bridge was built to connect the city of Sweetwater with the FIU campus. The bridge had just been installed Saturday over a period of about six hours.
According to FOX News, the two firms that were responsible for the building and installation of the downed bridge had histories of violations, fines, and past engineering failures. Among recent accusations were that one of the firms hire “unskilled” and “careless” workers.
One of the companies, Figg Bridge Design of Tallahassee, was cited by the Virginia Department of Labor for four violations in 2012. The citations came after a 90-ton slab of concrete fell from a bridge that the firm was building near Norfolk.
Figg was fined $28,000 after the Department of Labor determined the company modified a girder without properly inspecting it or getting written consent from the girder’s manufacturer, resulting in the collapse. Four workers were injured in the incident.
Similarly, MCM Construction faced a lawsuit earlier this month after being accused of hiring “incompetent, inexperienced, unskilled, or careless employees.” The lawsuit cited an incident in which a makeshift bridge erected at an expansion-site at Fort Lauderdale International Airport collapsed under the weight of an employee.
Over the past 11 years, MCM has been fined a total of more than $50,000 by the Occupational Safety Health Administration for safety violations. Additionally, a subcontractor won a $143,000 judgment against MCM after walking of a job site, noting significant safety issues with a bridge project in the Miami area.
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