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Bridge Collapse: FIU Freshman Among Victims Killed

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- A Florida International University student is among the at least 6 people who died in the bridge collapse, officials confirmed Friday.

Alexa Duran was driving her gray Toyota SUV under the pedestrian bridge when it collapsed.

Her father, Orlando, said she was looking forward to pursuing her major of political science.

"I'm going to miss her tremendously," he said from London, where he was on business. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

Duran said Alexa often traveled with him and the two shared a deep bond that he cherished and will miss.

"Alexa and I were very close," he said. "She would check me out when I would fall asleep on the couch at night."

Alexa Duran
A friend (left) and Alexa Duran (right) (Source: Facebook)

Alexa, a freshman, was in the car with her friend Richard Humble, who was in the passenger seat at the time when the bridge collapsed, her friend Manny Perez said.

Humble was able to get out of the car but they were not able to get Duran out, Perez said.

Humble was injured in the collapse and is in a neck brace and leg brace. At last check, he was in stable condition.

Alexa's friends are heartbroken.

"She was a very bright person," said Daniella Diaz, an FIU student. "She wanted to make people laugh. She was the life of the party. Everyone wanted to be around her."

Outside the Family Assistance Center at FIU, the family of Alberto Arias said they fear the worst, although officials have not given them a precise update on Arias' condition.

"They haven't told us," said Arias' cousin, Ismael Segovia. "They haven't confirmed. We know because his car his there, his truck is there."

Segovia said it's all surreal at this point.

"Amazing guy," Segovia said. "He went out of his way to help anybody. He was a business owner. He took a lot of pride in his work and his family. A family person."

The wife of Brandon Brownfield referred people to a go fund me page set up for her husband. The page says Brownfield is the father of 3 daughters and it does not give an update on Brownfield's condition.

Political leaders, like Senator Marco Rubio, met with some of the survivors in the hospital Friday. While spiritual leaders are trying desperately to comfort the suffering.

Pastor Conrad Molleda of CDM Community Church said there are few words to assuage someone's pain in these moments but there is a solidarity that shines through.

"There are many things that divide us but when it comes to moments like this — the human spirit comes together and unites in compassion," Molleda said.

The collapse injured 9 people in total, according to Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta.

Another victim identified is a man who worked for Structural Technologies VSL  which provided product and installation support for the contractor. The company says they had 3 employees involved in the collapse. Two of them were injured and are in stable condition. The company says a third worker, Navaro Brown, died. He was 37 years old. The company is only saying that he is a family man. The company says they will do anything they can to help in the investigation.

"We're committed to assisting with the investigation in any way possible," said Mike Biesiada, Chief of Sales and Marketing for Structural Technologies VSL. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Brown and his family and all those hurt in the tragedy and we want to thank the first responders for their support."

While they are not releasing the identities of the other 2 injured workers, they did confirm that their three employees were working on the bridge.

As for the victims still under the rubble, rescue operations have shifted to recovery.

'We've determined there are no longer any survivors," said Miami-Dade Fire Chief Dave Downey, adding that they exhausted all of their search and rescue capabilities last night.

Gallery: Scene of the FIU Bridge Collapse 

Now, the aim is to recover the remains of the victims.

"Our primary focus is to remove all of the cars and all of the victims in a dignified manner and not compromise the investigation in the process," said Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp on Friday.

The question as to how many total dead there are remains. Police say they expect that number to go up.

"We expect to find other individuals down there," said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.

During a Friday morning press conference, the police director shied away from an exact number.

"We're not even going to talk numbers," said Perez.

As of Friday morning, authorities had not released the identities of the victims killed in the collapse.

"We cannot confirm identities of who is in there, so we're caught in a bad place right now. The last thing we want to do is disclose names," said Perez. "We're trying to navigate through some difficult times."

Meantime, family and friends wait for news on their missing loved ones at the family reunification center set up at FIU's campus.

That includes the family of Rolando Gonzalez who gave CBS4's Joan Murray a picture of him. They believe he was driving his Jeep Cherokee in the area at the time when the bridge collapsed.

"A friend spoke to him, trying to call him and nothing," said Jorge Fraja. "It's hard. He was a great guy."

As each hour passes, hope is dimming for families and friends who fear their loved ones were trapped.

The family reunification center has been set up at FIU's campus in the Student Academic Success Center (SASC), Room 100. Families or friends worried that someone they know could have been a victim can call 305 348-3481.

Click here for more on our bridge collapse coverage.

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