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Wake Tech bridge worker: "It was like a bomb"

Posted November 16, 2014

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— After falling 40 feet to the ground, Jose Hernandez thought if he could open his eyes, then he had won.

Hernandez, 43, was working on a pedestrian bridge at Wake Technical Community College’s Northern Campus on Thursday when it collapsed, sending him and four others to the ground.

He spoke about the incident Sunday while recovering at his Raleigh home. He wore a neck brace due to his neck and back injuries.

Hernandez said he was working in a trench when he heard a loud noise. Then the ground buckled from under him.

“It was like a bomb,” he said, in Spanish, of the noise.

After the group plummeted to the ground, Hernandez’ close friend, Jose Luis Rosales-Nava, 42, a father of three, was trapped under a board.

He wasn’t responding.

“Hold on, hold on,” he remembered telling his friend.

Rosales was later pronounced dead.

The bridge's 140-foot center span collapsed as a crew from Central Concrete of North Carolina poured the concrete deck, officials said. The bridge will connect a library under construction along Perry Creek Road with nearby classroom buildings.

Paramedics arrived at the campus within six minutes of the collapse, but officials said getting to the injured took time due to the construction in the area and the wooded terrain the bridge traversed.

A second bridge under construction on campus, which will connect a parking deck along Success Way with classroom buildings, collapsed Friday morning. No injuries were reported in that incident.

The two bridges, which have a similar design, are part of a campus expansion project on the Louisburg Road campus paid for by bonds approved by voters in 2012.

Officials with Skanska USA, the general contractor for both bridges, have not said what caused either collapse. Determining a cause, and any safety violations, could take months, state Department of Labor officials said.

Two workers remained in the hospital Sunday while Hernandez and another man have been released.

For Hernandez, who has worked in construction for 30 years, continues to have difficulty sleeping.

He thinks about how things could’ve been much worse.

“Something could have happened to the kids,” he said, referring to Wake Tech students.

He has also forgiven those who may have caused the accident.

“It doesn't do me any good to judge them,” he said. “I have to forgive them because what is done is done. I just want them to make changes so that it doesn't happen again.”


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Alexia Proper Nov 17, 2014
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    Who is he talking about? It's a blanket statement that covers anyone who might have been at fault. He wasn't pointing the finger at anyone in particular.

    Those are good words he said. Without even knowing who or why, he's not angry and places no blame.'

    I wish more Americans were like that. Our country is composed of citizens who would rather sue somebody for failing to mark curbs than to take responsibility for walking where they're going. Not this man.

  • Linda Kerns Kellogg Nov 17, 2014
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    I hope Mr. Hernandez and the other workers recover; it must have been awful for him to be with his friend when he died. Prayers for Mr. Rosales-Nava's family. I hope they get to the bottom of the reason for the failure soon.

  • Betty Lanier Nov 17, 2014
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    you forgot your /snark tag....

  • Kyle Clarkson Nov 17, 2014
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    this is what happens when ObamaCare lets gay marriages and illegals into the country.

  • glarg Nov 17, 2014

    "The bridge's 140-foot center span collapsed as a crew from Central Concrete of North Carolina poured the concrete deck, officials said."The loud boom was something failing under load. I wonder if the concrete was improper and over the design limit or if was piling up too quickly without being dispersed.

  • Fourtyseven Cole Nov 17, 2014
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    A lot of these pedestrian bridges are "stock plans" from the companies that manufacture the parts. I don't know if the contractors hire independent engineers to verify the designs or not...should be interesting to see what the failure was.

  • sinenomine Nov 17, 2014

    What would be helpful about now is a list of other structures designed and built by the same firms which put up these bridges.

  • A cold, hard dose of Hans Nov 17, 2014

    Please support these families in any way you can.