Hundreds honor worker killed in Wake Tech bridge collapse
Posted November 17, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — About 200 people attended a Monday morning funeral Mass for a construction worker who died Thursday when a pedestrian bridge collapsed on the north Raleigh campus of Wake Technical Community College.
The body of Jose Luis Rosales-Nava, 42, will now be taken to his native Mexico for burial.
Rosales-Nava was part of a crew from Central Concrete of North Carolina that was pouring cement on the bridge when the 140-foot center span collapsed.
The father of three was trapped under a piece of the bridge's wooden frame when it plummeted 40 feet to the ground below, according to friend and fellow worker Jose Hernandez.
Hernandez and three other workers were injured in the accident. Hernandez and Carlos Chavez are recuperating at home, while Omar Lopez and Cesar Vargas remain hospitalized at WakeMed.
All of the workers were friends – Rosales-Nava and Lopez were brothers-in-law – who have done construction projects together for years, said Lopez's daughter, Solkamiry Lopez. She said Monday that her uncle was the glue that held the group of friends together.
"He was the one with all the friends, and everyone wanted to hang out with him," she said. "He was a devoted father and a husband. To me, he was the best uncle in the world."
Solkamiry Lopez said her father underwent spinal surgery to repair several broken vertebrae.
"He worries too about us and our aunt and (that) he can’t be here," she said. "I can see the pain this is causing him, not being able to be here (at the funeral) with my uncle."
Chavez, who was released from WakeMed on Saturday, said he wanted to attend Rosales-Nava's funeral at St. Raphael's Catholic Church to say goodbye to his friend.
"Jose was a good friend. I knew him for 10 years," Chavez said through an interpreter.
Chavez said all five workers were on top of the bridge, which will connect a library under construction along Perry Creek Road with nearby classroom buildings on the Wake Tech campus off Louisburg Road. He still isn't sure what happened.
"The sound was bad," he said of the loud noise from the crumbling bridge. "(It was) almost like walking on air."
A senior vice president for Skanska USA, the general contractor for the bridge project, attended the funeral and spoke to Rosales-Nava's wife, Sonia Lopez, afterward.
"I have no words," John Allen told her.
Sonia Lopez said she worries about their young children and about the future. She said she still wants to know why the bridge collapsed.
"If the companies are listening, I hope they have it in their hearts to help us, even though that won't bring my husband back," she said through an interpreter.
State Department of Labor investigators are trying to determine the cause of the collapse, as well as the cause of the collapse of a second Wake Tech bridge hours later, and whether any workplace safety rules were violated in either case.
The second bridge, which will connect a parking deck along Success Way with classroom buildings, fell overnight Thursday. No injuries were reported in that incident.
The two bridges, which have a similar design, are part of a campus expansion project paid for by bonds approved by voters in 2012.