President of construction company in FIU bridge collapse: ‘We wish we would have done more’

UNIVERSITY PARK, Fla. – Munilla Construction Management was one of the companies behind the deadly Florida International University’s pedestrian bridge collapse. It has since rebranded Magnum Construction Management.

Daniel Munilla, the president of the family-owned company, said he wrestles with what could have been done differently to prevent the March 15, 2018 tragedy.

“We have had many restless nights,” Munilla said. “We wish we would have done more.”

Munilla said they were aware of a crack in the structure that January.

“We saw the concern. Every day they documented it. We were assured by a world-renowned designer that it wasn’t a safety concern,” Munilla said.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation concluded there were initial design errors and omissions by the bridge engineer, the Tallahassee-based Figg Engineering Group, and a botched peer review by New Jersey-based The Louis Berger Group, the company responsible for vetting the design.

“It just wasn’t strong enough,” Munilla said. “This bridge was going to fail no matter what.”

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Heavy One positioning for rescue operations at FIU bridge collapse (Photo: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department)

The collapse of the section of the FIU-Sweetwater University City pedestrian bridge over a busy Tamiami Trail killed six people: Alexa Duran, Brandon Brownfield, Navarro Brown, Rolando Fraga Hernandez, Alberto Arias, and Oswald Gonzalez.

Late last year, MCM filed a lawsuit in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court against The Louis Berger Group for negligence.

“Nobody in a million years could imagine the catastrophe that occurred,” Munilla said about a decision to keep the Tamiami Trail open during the construction of the bridge.

Elliot Press, chief of operations at MCM, said the company lost many contracts after the tragedy — leading to bankruptcy filing and reorganization. Now with several major projects ongoing, the company is adding safety policies as it works to earn community trust.

“We’re going to honor the legacy and memory of those that lost their lives by ensuring it doesn’t happen again,” Press said.

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