MIAMI (WSVN) - The parents of an Florida International University freshman who was killed in last month’s bridge collapse filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Tuesday against several companies involved in the tragedy.
Gina and Orlando Duran, whose 18-year-old daughter Alexa was driving her SUV when the bridge unexpectedly collapsed on top of her vehicle, filed a 75-page complaint against nine companies.
The grieving parents stood next to a photograph of their daughter during a news conference. 7News captured Gina as she kissed the corner of the framed picture.
They described the FIU freshman as a smart, loving and giving young woman.
“My daughter was the world to me. Now I don’t have her,” said Gina as she fought back tears. “I don’t see my baby girl anymore.”
Alexa, the youngest of those killed, was studying political science with plans to go to law school. She was one of six victims who died when a newly installed pedestrian bridge on FIU’s campus collapsed, March 15.
“Her friend Sophia called me up and said, ‘Ms. Duran, you have to come and see, something bad happened to Alexa,'” said Gina.
“I arrive in time to see my daughter’s car being pulled from the debris and my daughter in the car, crushed,” Gina said.
The parents’ attorney, Alan Goldfarb, said the collapse was the result of “a compounding of multiple errors by multiple companies.”
“It’s a variety of all of those companies deciding that, ‘We need to push this in and try to get this done during the FIU spring break,'” said Goldfarb, “‘because we think there will be less people coming though it.'”
The attorney claimed there was a rush to finish the project under the threat of losing federal funding. “You bet they were under pressure. You bet they were worried about losing it,” said Goldfarb. “I have emails that say that.”
Because of that pressure, Goldfarb said, last-minute changes were made, and the bridge was placed above the roadway before it was ready.
“It just didn’t work. “The timing was off,” said Goldfarb. “It was bad decision-making, terrible decision-making.”
Alexa’s parents said her daughter’s dreams were stolen in an instant. “I cannot begin to describe the pain it brings to me just talking about my daughter,” said Orlando.
“She was my baby girl,” said Gina.
The Durans are the sixth family among the victims in the collapse that have filed lawsuits.
“What we are after is justice,” Orlando said. “A lot of things could’ve been prevented, and they didn’t.”
Richard Humble, a passenger in her vehicle, survived the March 15 tragedy. On Monday, Humble filed his own lawsuit against FIGG Bridge Engineers, Munilla Construction Management, and several other companies involved in the construction of the bridge.
Goldfarb said the City of Sweetwater, FIU and the Florida Department of Transportation will be added to the lawsuit once the six-month mandatory waiting period after they are notified has expired.
What’s left from the bridge debris has been piled to the side of Southwest Eighth Street in West Miami-Dade.
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