'We're not concerned about it,' FIU bridge engineer says about cracks found before collapse

Friends of student killed say something should have been done beforehand

By Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Photos taken of large, deep cracks in the Florida International University pedestrian bridge were taken two days before the bridge collapsed, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Investigators said the photos were taken the same day a phone call was made by an engineer to a Florida Department of Transportation employee about the cracks. 

Denney Pate, with FIGG Bridge Engineers, called FDOT to report the cracking on the bridge over busy Southwest Eighth Street, but left a voicemail saying it didn't appear to be much of a concern. 

"We've taken a look at it and, uh, obviously some repairs or whatever will have to be done, but from a safety perspective, we don't see that there's any issue there. So we're not concerned about it, from that perspective," Pate said. 

Pate nor Figg Engineers representatives in Tallahassee could say why Pate thought it wasn't a concern because the NTSB has ordered all entities involved in the bridge construction to not speak publicly during the investigation.

Friends of Alexa Duran, the youngest of the six people killed in the collapse, visited her gravesite Friday, overwhelmed with fresh grief and fresh questions.

"Something could have been done. Either the voice message could have raised a flag, these pictures could have been sent out or the workers … if you're working and you see something, like tell your boss," Duran's best friend, Sofia Rincon, said. 

Pate is a career veteran bridge engineer and is highly regarded as an innovator in the field.

As lead engineer on the bridge project, his judgment calls are certainly a focus as NTSB investigators document the disaster.

The NTSB has interviewed numerous people involved in the bridge construction, but has not yet concluded its investigation into what caused the bridge to collapse.

 

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