The distraught parents to one of six victims who died from the fallen pedestrian bridge in Florida spoke about the pain they are left now that she’s gone.
Gina and Orlando Duran, who lost their daughter Alexa, 18, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday against the engineering and construction companies responsible for the faulty Florida International University bridge that collapsed on March 15.
A sobbing Gina spoke in a press conference Tuesday where she said the family’s dry cleaning business is quiet inside and a constant reminder that Alexa is no longer there with them.
‘I don’t see her, I don’t smell her. I don’t have somebody to be there with. I’m always going, “Alex” – then I realize she isn’t here,’ she said.
The victim’s mother said her daughter was loved by everyone who knew her there as a helping hand since she was a little girl.
From left to right: Attorney Alan Goldfarb and Orlando and Gina Duran speak to the media Tuesday, April 3, 2018, in Miami, about losing their 18-year-old daughter when a bridge collapsed in Miami and their legal fight against the companies in charge of the construction
Alexa’s dad Orlando said that was just ‘her personality’, according to the Miami Herald, as he recalled sweet memories of his daughter patting his head to ask if he was OK.
‘I’d nod my head … and she would say, ‘don’t worry, Dad, you still got it,’ Orlando Duran said about his daughter in the press conference.
‘I don’t know if I can face not having her… beyond my daughter, my little girl, she was a friend to me,’ he added.
Family members to victim Alexa Duran (pictured) have filed a wrongful death lawsuit
Alexa’s best friend, Richie Humble, who was in the same SUV with her at the time but able to crawl out with only injuries, said he has flashbacks and anxiety attacks have haunted him ever since.
The pedestrian bridge near a Florida university fell on the car he was riding in, killing six people including his best friend who was driving their vehicle.
Humble said Monday that the collapse caused a fracture in his back, along with knee and neck problems. But he said his mental health has caused him to abandon all but one of his classes at Florida International University.
The 19-year-old FIU sophomore filed a negligence lawsuit last week against several companies involved in the bridge’s construction, the latest of a series of suits by injured survivors or victims’ families.
The pre-med student said he wouldn’t want anyone to go through what he did.
‘There’s not a single day that I don’t think about it,’ Humble told reporters at a press conference on Monday.
The Florida International University student (right) was being driven back from a doctor’s appointment by his best friend, Alexa (left), when the bridge fell on top of them
Richie Humble, 19, a survivor of the March 15 Florida bridge collapse, filed a lawsuit Monday against several companies involved in the bridge’s construction. He’s pictured above speaking at a press conference on Monday
Covered in Duran’s blood, Humble says he yelled out her name but she didn’t say anything back. Duran’s crushed car is seen above
Video courtesy WPLG
Alexa was driving him back from a doctor’s appointment that day when they came to a stop underneath the new bridge.
They were talking about their plans for the next day, possibly seeing a movie, when Humble heard a crack and saw the bridge start to fall down on top of them. A split second-later and the car was crushed underneath the 950-ton concrete mass.
Humble remembers shouting Duran’s name and ducked down as fast as he could. But then the car went silent.
‘She wasn’t saying anything. And I had her blood on me, and I didn’t really know what to do,’ he said. ‘I looked up at her one more time. I saw just her hair, nothing else.’
Duran was the youngest of six victims who died in the March 15 collapse. Her car is seen on the far right
Eventually, someone was able to rescue Humble by prying open his door with a wooden beam. When he got out of the car, he immediately called his mom.
‘All I could hear was sirens and Richie screaming and screaming. I couldn’t control him. He was frantic. All I could hear was him screaming,’ Lourdes Humble said.
While Humble’s physical wounds have mostly healed, there’s no doubt that he willbe left scarred for life by the trauma of what happened and the loss of his dearest friend.
‘She was like just the brightest light in my life. Always there for me whenever,’ Humble said of Duran.
After being rescued from the crushed vehicle, Humble called his mother panicked
Humble is seen sitting on a median after the collapse. He sustained several minor injuries
The bridge was well known to FIU students like Humble and Duran. Their university had celebrated its installation five days before the collapse with officials saying they were filled with pride for seeing a 950-ton concrete bridge that was prefabricated and quickly installed over a busy six-lane highway.
Angry at engineers, school officials and the government, Humble said more should have been done to protect drivers and pedestrians near the bridge after it was swung into place.
‘There were human lives at risk. It’s just something you shouldn’t play with at all … people including myself; from this point on they will be changed,’ he said.
The teen’s mother also spoke about her son’s anxiety, and said she found him crying and curled up in a fetal position days after surviving the collapse.
‘He is a 19-year-old who cannot take a shower without screaming and crying. I have to go in and get him out of the shower. (It has been) very difficult for myself, my husband, my mother,’ she said.
Humble’s mother Lourdes (pictured left with the family’s attorney) says she’s found her son crying in the fetal position in the shower after what happened
Humble himself says he’s has to pull over twice while driving because of anxiety attacks behind the wheel.
‘I’d say every other day I have flashbacks and it’s hard to handle and it’s really scary because I can’t even control myself,’ Humble said.
Companies have not commented on the lawsuits.
Stuart Grossman, Humble’s attorney, said his team is looking at the bidding process, the design and whether traffic should have been diverted the days that followed the installation.
‘In a project that is bid for in this community…clearly inspections did not do their jobs, engineering didn’t not do its job, construction did not do its job and people die. What’s up? What’s going on here?’ Grossman said.
The construction of the bridge was behind schedule and over budget, partly because of a key change in the design and placement of one of its support towers north to the edge of a canal, documents have shown.
The cause of the collapse is not clear. Before the failure, crews were adjusting a tension rod on the north end of the bridge, and authorities continue to investigate whether cracking that was reported on the same side before the span fell contributed to the accident.
‘The experiment failed, people are dead and Richie is not lucky. You are not lucky to have gone through something like this,’ Grossman said. ‘He is fortunate he survived. But this isn’t winning the lottery.’
MIAMI, FL – MARCH 21: Orlando Duran and Gina Duran, Alexa’s parents, along with her sister Dina Duran, attend a vigil for victims of the bridge collapse on March 21