They saw a 950-ton bridge turn to rubble in front of their eyes, but they didn’t run away. Instead, they rushed to help others.
When a pedestrian bridge collapsed near Florida International University killing at least four people on Thursday, drivers passing through the busy intersection jumped out of their cars.
A daughter and her mother ran out of a restaurant. A police officer took his radio and called for help.
Here is how witnesses described the moments after the bridge crumbled into chunks of metal and concrete:
‘The cars were completely crushed’
Isabella Carrasco drove under the bridge just moments before it collapsed.
“The cars were completely crushed under it,” she said.
“Quite frankly, I’m lucky to be alive,” Carrasco added. “That could have easily been me and my boyfriend under that bridge had we not turned right and decided to stay at the light and gone a different direction, or if we were stuck behind another car. We were right under that bridge. And my heart is broken and saddened. All the people affected by this. I’m absolutely in shock that this could happen.”
Some first responders closed off the street and others tended to the injured with the help of medical students. A police officer shook her head when someone asked if she had heard any response from people inside one car, Carrasco said.
People were ‘sprinting over there’
Lynell Collins, who drove past the bridge frequently and saw it come down, told CNN he was “pretty shaken” after helping pull people from their crushed cars.
“After the whole thing broke, I was freaking out,” Collins told CNN. “I got out of my car, and me and a few other people were sprinting over there. We started helping people whose cars were at least half crushed and whoever was easily saved. But we couldn’t really go under any of the rubble because, at the time, the bridge — the other half of the bridge is still kind of leaning upward right now.”
“That was also looking like that would slip and fall. Somebody we helped said his family was inside and we couldn’t help get them out. I’m sorry. I’m still shaken right now,” he said.
‘We ran out there and we tried to help’
Aura Martinez and her mom were getting food at a nearby restaurant when they turned around and realized the bridge had collapsed.
The FIU student said she initially didn’t know what to do, but then her instincts kicked in.
“We ran out there and we tried to help people,” Martinez told CNN affiliate WFOR.
“I was shocked because this thing they built, it had so much potential and everything, but it just literally killed people,” she added.