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Miami – A college student who narrowly escaped from a car that got smashed by a collapsing bridge said he watched helplessly as the structure tumbled down on top of the vehicle and killed the friend who was sitting next to him in the driver’s seat.

Richie Humble, who studies at Florida International University, was riding in a car under the pedestrian bridge when he heard a long creaking noise coming from the structure that spanned a busy Miami-area highway.

“I looked up, and in an instant, the bridge was collapsing on us completely. It was too quick to do anything about it,” Humble said Friday in a phone interview.

The falling concrete has already claimed six lives, and rescuers kept looking for bodies in the ruins of the structure, including that of the young woman who was at the wheel, Alexa Duran, whose family said she was dead.

Relatives and friends of people still missing after Thursday’s collapse gathered at the university, longing and praying for miracles as authorities tried to get inside the crushed cars still pinned under slabs of the bridge.

Once he realized he was alive, Humble also realized that he could not get to Duran. He called to her but got no response.

He made his way into the back seat but couldn’t squeeze through because the window was crushed. The men outside grabbed a wooden plank and pried open the rear door to pull him free, he said.

“I was trying to get people to realize my friend was still in there.”

Rescue workers sent him away in an ambulance. He suffered cuts to his leg from glass and a slight fracture to a vertebra, but he was able to walk away from the scene.

He described Alexa as one of his best friends.

“I want people to know Alexa was one of the downright sweetest girls. People should cherish every moment you have with your friends, because you don’t know when it’s going to be the last time,” Humble said.

While families waited for word on their loved ones, investigators sought to understand why the 950-ton bridge gave way during construction. The cables supporting the span were being tightened following a “stress test” when it collapsed, authorities said.

Detectives declared the rubble a homicide scene, and the National Transportation Safety Board arrived to investigate.

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