FIU holds vigil to remember victims of pedestrian bridge collapse

WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Florida International University held a vigil in honor of the six victims killed when a pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed onto the road in front of the university.

The vigil began at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the university’s Graham Center Ballroom before attendees marched to a memorial site at the corner of Southwest Eighth Street and 107th Avenue, near the scene of the collapse.

At the memorial site, attendees had the opportunity to leave flowers, candles and say prayers for the victims.

Over 1,000 people came out to honor the victims, including 18-year-old FIU student Alexa Duran.

A friend of Duran’s from high school sang a song they sang together after their high school graduation.

“She’s really important to me in high school, and coming into college, she was one of the only people I had,” said Duran’s friend Sophia Rincon.

During the event, FIU President Mark Rosenberg spoke and offered a message of unity in the wake of this tragedy.

“We are going to carry the memory of the victims. We’ll carry that memory forever,” he said.

It was just one week ago when the FIU-Sweetwater pedestrian bridge collapsed.

“It’s crazy to still imagine people passed away from that horrible accident, and just seeing everybody here just makes you feel like we’re all together, and we’re all here for something,” said student Sabrina Gato.

As students returned from spring break, they have been looking for a time to come together as a community.

“When one of us suffers, we all suffer,” said FIU sophomore Michelle Scheer. “When one of us feels pain, we all feel pain. With something like this, as a community, it’s very difficult to deal with.”

Earlier Wednesday, two of the victims, Alberto Arias and Osvaldo Gonzalez were laid to rest. They were in a relationship for 20 years and were both killed as the bridge fell on their car below.

“I feel it’s my responsibility to come out and represent FIU just so that we support the victims here, those that survived, those that lost their lives here,” said FIU senior Brandon Aquino.

From the service to the memorial, students marched across campus carrying white flowers to be laid by the wreath at the northeast part of campus.

Duran’s family was present at the event Wednesday, along with some of her sorority sisters.

Some could not hold back tears as they came together as one.

“We just want to create as much community and be together, and together the healing begins,” Scheer said, “and be ‘FIU Strong’ because that’s who we are.”

On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board said workers were adjusting tension on the north end of the bridge when it collapsed.

They said the crew did the same thing on the south end, earlier in the day.

Investigators are removing components of the bridge they feel need a closer look, including the floor, canopy and other sections near the north end.

The area where the memorial is has been cordoned off for anyone in the community who wants to pay their respects.

Duran’s sorority will be holding their own event on Thursday, but that is closed to the public.

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