3 bodies found in vehicles removed from bridge debris amid recovery efforts

MIAMI (WHDH) – A third vehicle trapped under debris from the bridge collapse near Florida International University in West Miami-Dade was removed from the scene, Saturday evening, hous after crews discovered three bodies inside the first two cars that were towed from the scene.

7News cameras captured a tow truck taking the third vehicle, which was covered with a blue tarp, to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office. The truck was escored by three Miami-Dade Police officers in motorcycles in what resembled a funeral procession.

Police have not specified how many bodies were found in the third vehicle.

From rescue to recovery, crews continued to work around the clock to give closure to the victims’ families.

Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez confirmed crews discovered three bodies inside those two vehicles. Investigators have identified them as Oswald Gonzalez, Alberto Arias and Rolando Fraga Hernandez.

Gonzalez and Arias were found inside a white Chevy truck. Fraga Hernandez was found inside his Jeep Cherokee.

Saturday’s discoveries brings the confirmed death toll to six.

FIU student Alexa Duran was one of those six victims. Her friend and passenger, Richie, survived the impact.

“I started to hear the bridge creak, so I looked up and I saw the bridge falling on top of us,” Richie said during a TV interview, “and it fell on the roof of the car and caved in, and it kind of caved in on my neck and squished me down.”

Richie called 911 after his escape, but it was too late for Duran. She was 18.

Duran’s father found out about her death while away in London. He told El Nuevo Herald, “My little girl was trapped in the car and couldn’t get out. She died when the bridge collapsed on top of her car. This is going to be the longest and saddest trip of my life. I don’t want to return.”

Her uncle, Joe Smith, remains in disbelief. “We all were in shock, obviously, the whole family,” he said. “When I first got the phone call, I said, ‘What? What are the odds?’”

Another victim, 37-year-old Navaro Brown, was a bridge employee who was killed when the concrete caved down.

Brandon Brown is said to still be missing, but his wife told 7News she believes he was killed.

Miami-Dade Police chaplains were on hand at the scene of the collapse to help console the families and first responders.

“Their main job, as far as they’re concerned, is not finished until everybody’s out,” said Miami-Dade Police Chaplain Thomas Hanlon, “until every family has had the ability to know that their family members had been taken care of.”

The two vehicles were transported to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Department, according to a tweet from Miami-Dade Police.

“We are working on the removal of two more vehicles. We’re trying to accomplish those simultaneously,” said Perez. “We’re going to try to move those vehicles out of the way and proceed throughout the day.”

As night approached on Saturday, authorities focused their efforts on trying to remove a fourth vehicle. They expect the death toll to rise to at least eight.

If you have any information on the bridge collapse that can help investigators, call police at 305-471-2421 or 305-471-2400. You can also email video to police at MDPDFVU@GMAIL.COM.

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