FEMALE HEADED CONSTRUCTION AND THE COLLAPSE OF FIU BRIDGE

ABC News

Chrystal Savage, Staff Writer |

In October 2016, it was decided that one of the Florida International University bridges relocate one of its main support pylons. The redesign was completed and the bridge was opened to the public on March 10, with a price tag near $15 million. This redesign and installation was implemented, largely, to increase pedestrian safety and accessibility.

It was later reported by an engineer that the bridge was beginning to show signs of cracking and perforation. A call was then put in to the Florida Department of Transportation, claiming that the bridge was sound despite the report of cracks in the structure. The voicemail was not reviewed until a day after the deadly collapse of the concrete pedestrian bridge, nor was the assessment investigated. The collapse of the structure was caught on camera. In that moment, six people lost their lives due to faulty construction, poor oversight, and failure to ensure public safety. These people were allegedly murdered, and a homicide investigation is now underway.

The 950-ton concrete bridge collapsed on March 15, at 1:47 p.m. EST, crushing six cars and pinning two more. The collapse killed six total victims, whose bodies were recovered in the most respectful fashion, and thus took more than a day to identify all persons involved; Brandon Brownfield was the last victim identified in the tragedy.

Brownfield was married with three daughters, his wife writing, “The coming days are going to be excruciating, as we dig deep to find the strength we need to heal. Please keep us in your prayers, as I now have to find the words and the answers to tell my girls that their Daddy is not coming home.”

Eighteen-year-old FIU student Alexa Duran was recovered and identified from the wreckage the day immediately following the collapse. Duran’s sister writes, “Words cannot describe how heavy my heart is… I would give anything to take your place and all of your pain. I will cherish every memory we’ve made and will miss you every day for the rest of my life. A piece of my heart is with you. Heaven is a better and funnier place with you in it. May your beautiful soul rest with the Angels my love. I will see you again soon.” Duran’s father was traveling abroad when he received the news, issuing a statement saying, “This is going to be the longest and saddest trip of my life. I don’t want to return.”

The list of victims also includes Navaro Brown, Structural Technologies VSL employee, 37; Robert Fraga Hernandez, ITG communications systems technician, 60; Osvaldo “Ozzie” Gonzalez, 57; and Alberto Arias, 54, cofounders of

Classic Designer’s Party Rentals.

Internet trolls have construed a conspiracy theory and taken attention away from the victims, the victims’ families, and the lawsuits being filed by claiming the company responsible for the construction of the bridge was an “all-female” unit and company, alluding that the investigation should end with deeming female employees unfit for jobs in construction.

FIGG Bridge Group and Munilla Construction Management were the two companies responsible for the installation of the bridge. YouTuber “Wife With A Purpose” first sparked the notion that female construction employment was to blame for the incident. She explicitly pushed more blame and fault on the part of MCM, which is ironically owned and run entirely by the Munilla brothers: Raul, Juan, Jorge, Lou, Fernando, and Pedro. Additionally, MCM’s vice president, manager of general construction, Texas regional operations director, and all the “key personnel” on the company’s website are men. Ironically, Linda Figg is the CEO, president and sole owner of the FIGG BG.

Donald Silver, a spokesman for MCM, denounced the false reporting, saying in part, “Although the company has several women in very responsible roles, the ownership is made up of the Munilla brothers and their families… It is so unfortunate that some junk news sites chose to carry unsubstantiated stories that were false and hurtful.”

The video blog was inspired by a grossly over-generalized interpretation of a statement made by Leonor Flores, MCM project executive. Flores explained, “It’s very important for me as a woman and an engineer to be able to promote that to my daughter, because I think women have a different perspective. We’re able to put in an artistic touch and we’re able to build, too.”

However, an article by The Squawker published 12 days prior to the tragedy explained, “Flores’ quote [proved] that MCM had allowed senior-ranking female employees to prioritize aesthetics over safety… Leonor Flores… says her number one priority when building bridges is to make sure they look pretty. Nothing else matters,” according to PunditFact.

Silver, when denouncing the original claims that women were responsible for the tragic accident, also addressed the 1998 FIU alum’s statement saying, “Leonor Flores did not work on the FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge project in any capacity.”

In October 2016, it was decided that one of the Florida International University bridges relocate one of its main support pylons. The redesign was completed and the bridge was opened to the public on March 10, with a price tag near $15 million. This redesign and installation was implemented, largely, to increase pedestrian safety and accessibility.

It was later reported by an engineer that the bridge was beginning to show signs of cracking and perforation. A call was then put in to the Florida Department of Transportation, claiming that the bridge was sound despite the report of cracks in the structure. The voicemail was not reviewed until a day after the deadly collapse of the concrete pedestrian bridge, nor was the assessment investigated. The collapse of the structure was caught on camera. In that moment, six people lost their lives due to faulty construction, poor oversight, and failure to ensure public safety. These people were allegedly murdered, and a homicide investigation is now underway.

The 950-ton concrete bridge collapsed on March 15, at 1:47 p.m. EST, crushing six cars and pinning two more. The collapse killed six total victims, whose bodies were recovered in the most respectful fashion, and thus took more than a day to identify all persons involved; Brandon Brownfield was the last victim identified in the tragedy.

Brownfield was married with three daughters, his wife writing, “The coming days are going to be excruciating, as we dig deep to find the strength we need to heal. Please keep us in your prayers, as I now have to find the words and the answers to tell my girls that their Daddy is not coming home.”

Eighteen-year-old FIU student Alexa Duran was recovered and identified from the wreckage the day immediately following the collapse. Duran’s sister writes, “Words cannot describe how heavy my heart is… I would give anything to take your place and all of your pain. I will cherish every memory we’ve made and will miss you every day for the rest of my life. A piece of my heart is with you. Heaven is a better and funnier place with you in it. May your beautiful soul rest with the Angels my love. I will see you again soon.” Duran’s father was traveling abroad when he received the news, issuing a statement saying, “This is going to be the longest and saddest trip of my life. I don’t want to return.”

The list of victims also includes Navaro Brown, Structural Technologies VSL employee, 37; Robert Fraga Hernandez, ITG communications systems technician, 60; Osvaldo “Ozzie” Gonzalez, 57; and Alberto Arias, 54, cofounders of

Classic Designer’s Party Rentals.

Internet trolls have construed a conspiracy theory and taken attention away from the victims, the victims’ families, and the lawsuits being filed by claiming the company responsible for the construction of the bridge was an “all-female” unit and company, alluding that the investigation should end with deeming female employees unfit for jobs in construction.

FIGG Bridge Group and Munilla Construction Management were the two companies responsible for the installation of the bridge. YouTuber “Wife With A Purpose” first sparked the notion that female construction employment was to blame for the incident. She explicitly pushed more blame and fault on the part of MCM, which is ironically owned and run entirely by the Munilla brothers: Raul, Juan, Jorge, Lou, Fernando, and Pedro. Additionally, MCM’s vice president, manager of general construction, Texas regional operations director, and all the “key personnel” on the company’s website are men. Ironically, Linda Figg is the CEO, president and sole owner of the FIGG BG.

Donald Silver, a spokesman for MCM, denounced the false reporting, saying in part, “Although the company has several women in very responsible roles, the ownership is made up of the Munilla brothers and their families… It is so unfortunate that some junk news sites chose to carry unsubstantiated stories that were false and hurtful.”

The video blog was inspired by a grossly over-generalized interpretation of a statement made by Leonor Flores, MCM project executive. Flores explained, “It’s very important for me as a woman and an engineer to be able to promote that to my daughter, because I think women have a different perspective. We’re able to put in an artistic touch and we’re able to build, too.”

However, an article by The Squawker published 12 days prior to the tragedy explained, “Flores’ quote [proved] that MCM had allowed senior-ranking female employees to prioritize aesthetics over safety… Leonor Flores… says her number one priority when building bridges is to make sure they look pretty. Nothing else matters,” according to PunditFact.

Silver, when denouncing the original claims that women were responsible for the tragic accident, also addressed the 1998 FIU alum’s statement saying, “Leonor Flores did not work on the FIU-Sweetwater University City Bridge project in any capacity.”

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