Moment of silence held for bridge collapse victims amid investigation

WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A community in mourning engaged in a moment of silent solidarity for the six people who lost their lives when a pedestrian bridge collapsed near Florida International University.

The FIU flag flew at half-staff in front of Graham Center Monday, as school administrators, faculty and students held hands and observed a moment of silence at 1:47 p.m.

That time marks the moment on Thursday when the bridge came down along Southwest Eighth Street.

FIU President Mark Rosenberg was at the center of the gathering but did not speak publicly afterwards.

Students who were just returning from spring break said they felt compelled to take part in the solemn occasion.

“I just want to show that I care and that I am supportive,” said Rhea Berry. “I think everybody who was out here, it’s important for them to be out here.”

“I’m here to support. I’m an FIU student, so it could have been any of us,” said Maia Castro.

“It’s important to show solidarity to the people that are affected,” said Zach Lendzian. “Every little thing counts, and I know that it meant a lot to the people who were affected that we were here.”

Students said things felt different on Monday.

“There’s an eerie feeling over everybody today,” said student Angela Radcliffe.

“Really somber. Students are quietly going from class to class,” said Jose Sirven, vice president of FIU’s student government.

FIU wasn’t the only place where respects were being paid. At the Sweetwater Police Department, officers also observed a moment of silence.

The department’s officers responded to the scene of the bridge collapse on Thursday.

“Everybody responded heroically. Not taking into account their own safety, they went in there and they did their jobs, which is what they signed up to do,” said Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the collapse continued to ramp up. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Friday that workers were trying to strengthen the bridge when it came down.

On Monday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott directed the Florida Department of Transportation to suspend the project’s payments, cutting off federal funding for now.

“The families deserve to know what happened,” said Scott.

Also on Monday, Matt Morgan of the law firm Morgan & Morgan filed the first lawsuit in this case on behalf of a bicycle rider who was hit by a vehicle when a wall of concrete rained down.

The attorney behind the civil suit said, “It’s important for the public to know that we will do everything to hold any responsible entity accountable.”

Monday night, Southwest Eighth Street opened for pedestrian traffic near campus for the first time since the collapse. The roadway remains shut down to vehicular traffic.

Additional events will take place at FIU throughout the week to honor the victims.

A blood drive will take place Tuesday in Lot 33, adjacent to the Graham Center Ballrooms in the main campus, from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Wednesday, the Student Government Association will hold a vigil for the victims at 10 a.m. in the Graham Center Ballrooms.

Alpha Xi Delta, the sorority that victim Alexa Duran belonged to, will also be holding a remembrance event on Thursday evening.

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