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Contractor: Crane Hit Doomed Garage

Monday, October 15, 2012

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A crane “bumped a support column” on a five-story parking garage two days before the structure pancaked on top of workers, killing three in Doral, FL, the contractor now says.

Meanwhile Monday (Oct. 15), the search continued for Robert Budhoo, 53, who was missing and presumed dead in the steel and concrete rubble at Miami-Dade College West campus.

‘Perfectly Safe’

“It is my understanding that there was an incident where the crane bumped a column” on Oct. 8, Ajax Building Corp. president William Byrne told reporters Friday (Oct. 12).

 The contractor said that a crane at the scene bumped a column two days before the collapse, but that the structure was not damaged by the incident.

 Ajax Building Corp.

The contractor said that a crane at the scene bumped a column two days before the collapse, but that the structure was not damaged by the incident.

Ajax is the general contractor on the $22.5 million project, which was to open in December. Harvard Jolly Architecture designed the 1,855-space garage. The company says it has designed more than 30 parking facilities.

The structure fell in level by level about 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday (Oct. 10). Two workers, Jose Calderon and Carlos Hurtado de Mendoza, were killed almost immediately. A third worker, Samuel Perez, 53, was rescued 12 hours later only after his legs were amputated, then died a short time after that.

Byrne said the crane incident was unrelated to the later collapse.

“It didn’t cause any damage to the column. The crane was repaired and inspected, and it was rectified, and the engineer looked at the column and deemed that it was perfectly safe,” he said.

Investigation Underway

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is leading the investigation of the incident. The probe is expected to take up to six months.

Byrne said in a statement that his 54-year-old company would “work hand in hand with the OSHA team” on the investigation and was “committed to a thorough, transparent finding of fact” in the incident.

The collapse killed three workers and injured nine others.

 Crews rescue a survivor who had been pinned under the wreckage of a parking garage under construction in Doral, FL.

 Miami-Dade Fire Rescue / WSVN

Crews rescue a survivor who had been pinned under the wreckage of a parking garage under construction in Doral, FL.

Reports indicated that as many as 17 workers—including painters, welders, and electricians—were working on the premises that day.

A witness who worked across the street said the structure “fell to the ground like a house of cards.”

‘I Jumped’

For one survivor, Anthony Williams, 27, the incident marked his first day on the job.

“I remember coming back after my lunch break and seeing a crack in the building on the fifth floor,” Williams told the local CBS affiliate.  “That was just 10 minutes before this crash happened.

“I told someone about it. I heard a crash and saw the building was going down. I jumped from the second floor, and it saved my life.”

“I was thinking of my mom and my 9-year-old daughter,” Williams said. “Right now, I am really shook up and terrified. I still have nightmare and dreams. I can still feel the building shaking.”

The Last Worker

Budhoo is believed to be the last victim left in the debris.

Despite the grim outlook, the man’s family and others continued to hold out hope for his survival.

Laurel Budhoo, the man’s wife, told reporters that she was frustrated with the search effort. Authorities cited dangerous building conditions in the recovery effort Saturday (Oct. 13).

“I want them to extend the search around the clock,” she said. “I don’t want them to close off the light and the machines at 8 o’clock or 11 o’clock. I want them to work around the clock, get workers, do shifts.”


Tagged categories: Accidents; Concrete; Construction; Fatalities; Health and safety; Parking Garages; Steel; Subcontractors

Comment from otis wayne Hale, (10/16/2012, 9:51 AM)

That crane strike shocked any steel connected to that column from end to end, and subjected the fasteners to shear forces they were not designed for; especially during the construction phase. Any damage to the column would probably been just cosmetic. The real damage went undetected, probably because nobody looked for it.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/18/2012, 10:29 AM)

If the crane impact was the proximate cause - that engineer better have good professional liability insurance.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (10/19/2012, 10:26 AM)

Tom, you said the magic word..."if." Personally, I'll let the forensic engineers work their investigation and figure out what happened. Sure, having a crane hit a structure under construction is less than ideal...and looks especially bad considering the structure collapsed...but it doesn't mean the crane strike was the cause of the collapse. The "house of cards" comment makes me wonder about a possible cascade failure and where it may have originated...and there are a lot of potential causes there.

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/22/2012, 11:47 AM)

Sure. It's absolutely "if" at this point - none of us were there and there isn't a formal report issued.

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