NTSB arrives to investigate the FIU pedestrian bridge collapse
A team of 12 specialists from the National Transportation Safety Board is in South Florida Friday investigating the collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University that has killed at least six people.
Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the NTSB, said the team of civil engineers and other specialists is in the very early stages of its investigation. He said several members of the team were on the scene already collecting evidence as rescue workers cleared rubble and searched for survivors.
“We hope to find out what happened and prevent it from happening again,” Holloway said. “That’s the goal.”
The NTSB will look at the construction of the bridge, inspection materials and maintenance records. They’ll also review any available video to determine how and why the bridge collapsed and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing similar accidents. NTSB is not a regulatory agency so cannot enforce laws. The safety review is being conducted in coordination with any other investigation of possible negligence or wrong doing.
Holloway said they’ll go where “the facts lead,” but would not go into specifics on any investigative leads, such as whether a stress test conducted on the unfinished bridge may have played a role and whether the busy roadway should have been closed Thursday due to testing.
At a news briefing, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt described the agency’s response as a “multi-disciplinary team.”
In November 2008, the NTSB issued a nearly 200-page report on the collapse of another bridge, the one spanning Interstate 35 in Minneapolis. That disaster occurred in August 2007 and resulted in the deaths of 17 people, while another 145 were injured.
The NTSB probe found “major safety issues” that included “insufficient bridge design firm quality control procedures for designing bridges, and insufficient Federal and State procedures for reviewing and approving bridge design plans and calculations.”
Thursday’s collapse of the recently-installed $14.2 million pedestrian bridge at Florida International University Police sent 10 more people to 10 people to the hospital. Kendall Regional Medical Center director Mark McKenney told ABC News the patients being treated range in age from 20 to 50 and suffered level-one trauma injuries.
Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said early Friday morning that the search had turned from a rescue effort to a recovery effort. “Our priority is to get the bodies out,” Zabaleta said.
“One patient arrived in a coma with severe extremity injuries,” McKenney said Thursday night. Eight other patients were admitted with less severe injuries such as broken bones and abrasions.
President Donald Trump was briefed on the situation. He tweeted Thursday evening that his administration was "continuing to monitor" the crisis.
"Continuing to monitor the heartbreaking bridge collapse at FIU — so tragic. Many brave First Responders rushed in to save lives. Thank you for your courage. Praying this evening for all who are affected," Trump tweeted.