Toddler's crushed car seat haunts bridge collapse survivor in search of answers

Mother files lawsuit against engineers and construction companies involved

By Glenna Milberg, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

SWEETWATER, Fla. - Katrina Collazo said she was driving her Nissan SUV on Eighth Street when something heavy slammed the roof of her car. The concrete from the Florida International University pedestrian bridge fell a few inches behind her. It crushed her 3-year-old daughter's car seat. 

When she looked to the side, there was a cloud of dust and flattened cars. She screamed in terror. Collazo thought about her daughter. She knew that had her little girl been in the car she would have been killed, and had she not accelerated, she wouldn't have a mom to care for her. 

"I am so grateful right now," Collazo said. 

The March 15 bridge collapse left six people dead. Collazo was on her way to join the FIU nursing program when the collapse happened. She filed a lawsuit alleging that those who designed and built the bridge put profits over safety.

Collazo and her attorney Spencer Aronfeld believe they were negligent for not closing the road as they worked on the bridge. 

"We are able with subpoena power to do a lot of things that cannot be done efficiently with administrative investigations," Aronfeld said.  

Those investigations are off site now — including ongoing concrete sample testing at an National Transportation Safety Board facility in Virginia. Cracks on the north side of the bridge were a concern hours before the collapse. The cracks were on the same side where crews were putting tension on interior cables the day of the collapse. 

Miami-based Munilla Construction Management was aware of the cracks and communicated the existence of the cracks to the Florida Department of Transportation. 

"A past design change moved the north column 11 feet toward the canal bank, which may have altered the ability to support the structure properly during it's move into place," said MCM president Jorge Munilla, a graduate of FIU's School of Business Administration. 
 

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