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Officer responding to bridge collapse thought it was terrorist attack

Sweetwater officer hears 'boom,' rushes to save lives

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(CNN Video)

SWEETWATER, Fla. – A Sweetwater Police Department detective was in a meeting when a pedestrian bridge connecting to Florida International University collapsed Thursday. 

Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez said he was proud of Officer Juan Llera who was ready for the worst when he ran towards danger. 

"I heard a 'boom' like a bomb had exploded," Llera said. "At first I thought it was a terrorist attack."

Llera said he saw three injured construction workers. One had a head injury and was passing in and out of consciousness, another one had a leg injury and the third was lying on the street unconscious. He started to perform CPR on the worker who was lying on the street.

"We were able to keep him alive to send him to the hospital," Llera said.

Dania Garlobos said she was one-car length away from the bridge when it came crashing down. She said she knew she as going to need therapy to deal with what she experienced. 

"I started to cry and scream," Garlobos said in Spanish, while at the family reunification center at FIU. "It could have been me."

FIU student Gabriela Collazo was having lunch in her apartment when she said she heard a "crazy earth-shattering, bone-crushing 'boom,'" and she ran outside thinking a construction crane had fallen. 

"I was not expecting to see this," Collazo said. 

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel took the survivors to Kendall Regional Hospital's trauma center. As the search-and-rescue operation continued, authorities said the collapse left at least four dead and several injured. 

Federal, state and local authorities were investigating the collapse of the innovative bridge that FIU was managing. 


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