A grieving father says his 19-year-old daughter is one of the victims of the deadly pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University on Thursday.
Alexa Duran, of Southwest Ranches, Florida, was driving when the bridge collapsed on top of her car, her father, Orlando Duran, told El Nuevo Herald, a sister publication of The Miami Herald.
Although authorities have not officially confirmed the identities of any victims, Duran says his daughter, who was a beloved freshman who had recently joined a sorority and was majoring in political science, was killed in the incident. Florida Highway Patrol confirmed to PEOPLE on Thursday that there were several fatalities.
“My little girl was trapped in the car and couldn’t get out. She died when the bridge collapsed on top of her car,” Orlando told El Nuevo Herald from London, where he was traveling when he received the news. “This is going to be the longest and saddest trip of my life. I don’t want to return.”
In a phone interview with the The New York Times, Duran said: “She was an angel. She wanted to become a lawyer, and she was so beautiful.”
Alexa’s friend, Richie Humble, a sophomore at FIU, said he was sitting in the passenger seat of her car when the terrifying incident occured. They were stopped at a red light when he suddenly heard the bridge crack.
“So I look up and I saw the bridge falling on top of us,” he told TODAY on Friday. “It fell on the roof of the car and kind of caved in on my neck and squished me down. But I didn’t really know what was going on at all.”
Richie said he screamed Alexa’s name several times, but didn’t get a response back.
Richie’s mother, Lourdes Humble, told TODAY that she received a phone call from her son while he was still at the scene, saying, “I have a lot of blood around me. It’s not mine, Mom. I have a lot of blood.’ “
Lynnet Gomez, who met Alexa during freshman orientation last year, told The Miami Herald that she was an “awesome person” and “the funniest person I know.”
Another friend, Manny Perez, who is a junior at the university, told the publication that Alexa was “one of those people who lights up any room, any circumstance, situation. She always makes her presence known.”
The bridge — which was just installed on Saturday morning — wasn’t yet open for pedestrian use. It was built to let students walk across from the main campus to an area where students live in dorms and off-campus housing. Construction was expected to finish in early 2019.
In a statement on Twitter, Munilla Construction Management, the company that was hired to build the bridge 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.”
Student Damany Reed, who is a sophomore at FIU, tells PEOPLE: “I was sitting in my apartment with my girlfriend watching Netflix and suddenly we heard a series of booms. It wasn’t just one. A lot of people sprung into action.”
According to Reed, the busy eight-lane highway below the bridge was deemed extremely dangerous, and that just last year a student was killed while attempting to cross it.
“Some kids don’t have patience to wait for the light, so they run when it’s still yellow,” he says. “The bridge was built for safety reasons.”
The student, Alexa Dale, was killed at the intersection when she attempted to cross the street in August 2017, according to The Miami Herald.