An engineer from the company responsible for building the pedestrian bridge that collapsed at a university in Florida on Thursday reported cracks two days before the tragedy.
Miami Herald reports that FIGG Bridge Group employee, Denney Pate, called the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on Tuesday and left a voicemail mentioning cracks at one end of the bridge, but dismissed any safety issue.
The FDOT released a transcript of the message on Friday night.
In the message, Pate said he was calling to share "some information about the FIU pedestrian bridge and some cracking that's been observed on the north end of the span". He added that it's at "the pylon end of that span we moved this weekend".
He continued, saying that the bridge has been looked at and "obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done, but from a safety perspective we don't see that there's any issue".
"We're not concerned about it from that perspective although obviously the cracking is not good and something's going to have to be, ya know, done to repair that," he says, before asking for someone to call back when they can.
The FDOT claimed that the voicemail wasn't heard until yesterday morning — after the bridge had collapsed.
So far six people have been reported dead, with the search for others buried in the rubble still underway.
FIRST VICTIM NAMED
A Florida International University freshman is the first fatality to be named after a pedestrian bridge collapsed onto a road in Miami on Thursday.
Alexa Duran, 18, was a political science major at FIU, and at the moment of collapse she was driving below the bridge in her grey Toyota SUV, with a friend in the front passenger seat, the Miami Herald reported.
According to the New York Post, Duran's friend, Richard Humble, was able to get out of her car. But he could not free her, said another friend, Manny Perez.
Humble is in stable condition with neck and leg injuries, the Herald reported.
"The way the bridge fell, it fell on the driver's side," another friend, Lynnet Gomez, had told the Herald on Thursday, as she and Perez waited at the campus for word of their friend.
Duran's father, Orlando Duran, confirmed his daughter's death, telling el Nuevo Herald: "My little girl was trapped in the car and couldn't get out. She died when the bridge collapsed on top of her car."
Duran was in London when he heard about the accident and is making his way home.
"This is going to be the longest and saddest trip of my life. I don't want to return."
Authorities have yet to confirm the sad news.
Jorge and Carol Fraga drove from West Palm Beach, fearing their relative's car was trapped beneath the bridge at Florida International University.
Sixty-year-old Rolando Fraga, Jorge's uncle, lives in the area and frequently takes the nearby turnpike to work, but no one has heard from him since midday Thursday. "The waiting is so ... I don't have words for that," Carol Fraga said through tears.
"I want to find out for sure if it's him out there," Jorge Fraga said. "They saw the car — his Cherokee. We don't know exactly his whereabouts. He got missed 12 o'clock on. It seems it could be him, but (we're) not sure."
Chelsea Brownfield, posted on Instagram that she was still waiting to hear whether her husband, Brandon Brownfield, was killed in the bridge collapse.
"Tonight will be the longest night of my life," she wrote 11 hours after the collapse. "My girls have not been told about this situation. Although, they are very smart and will figure it out pretty soon that something is wrong.
Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan Perez said he understood it was an agonising wait for families.
"We know that there's people missing, the family members know that there's people missing, and what we can tell them is that we can assume that they're in there," Perez said at a news conference.
After searching the site with sniffer dogs, police have determined that no one would be pulled out alive, Perez told reporters.
Perez said that his agency's homicide squad is leading the investigation.
"We've got to look at the reality that there may be some negligence down the line," Perez said. "It will help determine whether someone is liable for this ... It's obviously an accident either way. We have to look to see if somebody contributed to that accident."
It came as a harrowing video revealed the moment the Florida bridge plunged on to a busy freeway, landing on eight cars below, "crushing them like sardine cans".
The video, which appears to be filmed by someone looking at a screen with the security camera footage, was posted on social media.
The footage shows how the bridge suddenly collapses on the road.
People can be seen standing on the bridge as it crumbles and hits the ground.
The footage emerges after Miami-Dade Police say the death toll from the horrific tragedy has risen to six people.
BRIDGE COMPANY 'STUNNED' BY COLLAPSE
Florida Senator Bill Nelson said it was "tragic" and "ironic" a safety bridge installed to protect students trying to cross a busy six-lane freeway had collapsed.
The bridge was intended to provide a walkway over the busy street where an 18-year-old female FIU student from San Diego was killed while trying to cross last August, according to local media reports.
The company that designed a pedestrian bridge that collapsed in Florida is the same company that designed the new bridge in Minnesota, after the old span collapsed more than 10 years ago.
The engineering company FIGG Bridge Group said in a statement that it's stunned by the collapse. The cause is under investigation, but authorities said yesterday that cables were being tightened when it collapsed.
The bridge was designed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, the most dangerous measure by the National Hurricane Center, and built to last 100 years, the university said.
In 2007, the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, killing 13 people and injuring 145. After that tragedy, FIGG was selected to design the replacement bridge that's currently in use.
Students at FIU are currently on their spring break vacation, which runs from March 12 to March 17.