Image Credits: Recovery operations continue Saturday morning, March 17, 2018, at the site of the Florida International University-Sweetwater University bridge in the Miami area that collapsed during construction earlier in the week. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)
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By GIO BENITEZ
A week after the deadly bridge collapse at Florida International University, one of the survivors is speaking out in the wake of filing a lawsuit against the engineers and construction companies behind the project.
Katrina Collazo, who was injured in the collapse, was overcome with emotion as she told ABC News’ Gio Benitez about that tragic day where six people lost their lives.
In an interview set to air Friday on “Good Morning America,” Collazo, the mother of a 3-year-old girl, said she was sitting at the spotlight in her Nissan SUV when she felt something slam against the roof of her car.
“I thought somebody had hit me from behind until I looked to the side and I saw all those cars under that bridge, knowing that they were dead. There was no way they could’ve survived something like that,” said Collazo, a medical assistant.
“To tell you the truth, I just screamed,” she added. “I remember people running to my car and trying to get me out. And I just remember screaming and screaming not understanding what was going on.”
The entire back half of her SUV was completely destroyed in the collapse.
Collazo, who was on her way to FIU to look into joining the nursing program, said she can’t shake the image of those cars flattened right next to her.
“I’m thankful for being here today and being able to speak. But there are those that aren’t, that will never hold their children again, that will never graduate. That is not fair. This is not supposed to happen to anybody,” she said.
Her daughter was not in the car, but her car seat in the back seat was entirely crushed in the collapse, Collazo said.
“That crosses my mind every second of the day that just because it was 1:47 p.m., my daughter was not in that car. I don’t even know what I would’ve done. I don’t know because she’s my life, she’s my daughter,” said Collazo. “Imagine if she had been there.”
Several other victims and their families also filed lawsuits this week. Among Collazo’s complaints in the lawsuit are that two of the companies involved — FIGG Bridge Engineers and Munilla Construction Management — “had a duty to take all actions necessary to preserve the health, safety and welfare of the general public.”
“Traffic should not have been permitted to go underneath it until it was safe and there were indications well before this accident happened that this bridge had cracks, that there were safety concerns. And at that moment, traffic should have been stopped until it could have been repaired,” said Spencer Aronfeld, Collazo’s attorney.
In a statement to ABC News, FIGG Bridge Engineer said, “We are aware that a lawsuit has been announced regarding the pedestrian bridge accident. Our priority focus continues to place sympathies for the victims at the forefront of our thoughts. FIGG Bridge Engineers will work diligently with authorized investigators in an earnest ongoing effort to determine what led to the accident and what can be done to ensure that nothing like it happens again.”
MCM did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment Thursday, but previously said: “Our family’s thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. The new UniversityCity Bridge, which was under construction, experienced a catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life. MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.”
Collazo has her own message for the families who lost loved ones.
“I want them to know that my prayers are with them. We’re going to the bottom of this, that we are going to make sure this never happens again,” she said.