| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Download our free BWater Works Coating Systems eResource Book

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

No Answers in Parking Deck Cave-in

Thursday, May 30, 2013

More items for Health & Safety

Comment | More

Investigators continue to comb the rubble of a suburban Maryland parking garage to determine why a 50,000-pound concrete slab fell, fatally crushing a construction worker and critically injuring another.

Maryland's Occupational Safety and Health Division is heading the investigation into the May 23 accident that killed Carroll "Star" Dexter Wills, 57, of Frederick, MD.

Wills and another construction worker were inside the structure, which was under construction at Westfield Montgomery Mall, in Bethesda, MD, when it caved in shortly after 2 p.m., as shoppers looked on in shock.

Wills was pronounced dead at the scene. The other worker, whose identity has not been released, is reported in critical condition.

Carroll Wills

Worker thumbs up


Carroll "Star" Dexter Wills (left) was pronounced dead at the scene. At right, a worker trapped in the debris for more than four hours gives a thumbs-up before being flown to an area hospital.

"It was loud," said shopper Bany Alavi. "I would say like a really loud bomb, just a really loud bang. I didn’t know ‘Did a bomb go off?’"

The collapsed section, about 40 feet long, occurred between the second and third levels of the garage, about 500 feet from a Macy's department store.

Delicate Rescue

Rescue personnel worked for more than four hours to stabilize the structure before they were able to free the second worker, said Assistant Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Graham.

“In the middle of the extraction, we did notice some shifting of the concrete,” Graham told reporters.

As a result, they paused the rescue and, with help from structural engineers, altered their approach. More than 100 people were involved in the rescue attempt, said Graham.


The project's general contractor was Whiting-Turner. It was not immediately known if that company or a subcontractor was working on the scene at the time.

The other worker was conscious and alert when rescued, even giving a thumbs-up to reporters at the scene before being flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. His condition has been reported variously as critical and serious.

Rebecca Kresge, who identified herself on Twitter as a relative of the victim, said he was severely injured and told the Washington Post that he would require several surgeries on his arm. Kresge said her relative was "alert and very strong" and was "doing just fine considering what happened."

Contractor Undisclosed

The men's employer still has not been publicly identified.

A Montgomery County official identified the general contractor on the project as Baltimore-based Whiting-Turner, which typically ranks among the top domestic general building contractors as reported by Engineering News Record (ENR).

It was not known, however, if Whiting-Turner or a subcontractor was working on the site when the accident occurred. The company has not commented and did not respond to a request for comment.

Emergency crews worked for more than four hours to rescue one of the workers. The other perished at the scene.

Diane Schwartz Jones, director of Montgomery’s Department of Permitting Services, told the Washington Post that her office was reviewing the project's many permits and permit applications and could not immediately say whether any problems or citations had been issued during construction.

“This project has been around for a long time,” Jones told the newspaper. “There are a lot of permits for that site.”

The parking garage, just outside Washington, D.C., was in the midst of a major three-phase redevelopment project that involved putting a 16-screen movie theater on top of the parking garage.

Montgomery County approved the project in 2005.

A check of federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration records showed no inspections or citations on the garage project in the last three years.

'If You Knew Him, You Loved Him'

Wills was a 30-year member of Ironworkers Local #5.

Wills' niece, Olivia Smith, said her uncle had worked construction since graduating from high school and had loved the work.

“He lived for that job," Smith told the Washington Post. "He wouldn’t be doing anything but that. He wasn’t a sit-down type of guy."

Smith, who was single, had three sons (one deceased) and a daughter, the newspaper reported.

“If you knew him, you loved him,” Smith said.

Garage Cave-ins

The collapse was the third fatal cave-in at a North American parking structure in the last year.

In June 2012, the rooftop parking deck of the Algo Centre Mall in Ontario caved in, killing two women and injuring dozens of shoppers who were inside the complex.

A public inquiry into that accident has been underway since March. The cause has been laid to chronic leaks that corroded structural steel below the hollow-core concrete decking.

Mall deck collapse Algo Centre Mall (left); Wikimedia Commons (right)

Left: Thursday's collapse at the Westfield Montgomery Mall. Right: The 2012 rooftop deck collapse at the Algo Centre Mall.

In October, four construction workers perished when a nearly complete parking structure pancaked to the ground at Miami-Dade University West Campus. Five contractors have been cited in that accident.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Concrete; Fatalities; OSHA; Parking Garages; Retail

Comment from WAN MOHAMAD NOR WAN ABDUL RAHMAN, (5/30/2013, 11:04 AM)

Todays accidents happened because people put profit first instead of quality. We can never overcome tragedies like this.

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

ABKaelin, LLC
Quality is our bottom line

Services include:
• Environmental, Health &
• Contractor QP Certification
• Quality Assurance Programs
  and Auditing
• SSPC C3/C5 and other
• Coatings
• Design/Construction
See our website at or contact us today

Clemco Industries Corp.
Powerful Protection in a Small Package

Mounts inside blast helmet, alerts operator to dangerous breathing-air condition by audible, visual, and vibratory alarms. Easily calibrated, battery operated.


The Next Generation
of Blasting

• Lightest
• Coolest
• Most Comfortable
• Most Dependable

LS Industries
LS Blasters: Optimum Steel Cleaning Efficiency

Simplify surface prep with the precise shot control of LS Blasters. Our blast technology delivers optimum coverage and finish. 800-533-8008

US Minerals
US Minerals -
Black Magnum

With nationwide production and distribution capabilities, U.S. Minerals supplies a complete range of coal slag and other abrasives to meet all of your blasting needs.

Corrosion Probe, Inc.
From Detection to Correction

Corrosion Probe, Inc. has the Most Concrete Coatings Experience and Expertise. Contact us today at

New resins from BASF will have metals loving water:

Excellent corrosion resistance, low VOC, high gloss, thin films

NLB Corporation
Water jet surface prep, high or low

See how quickly HydroPrep® tools do surface prep, with no containment needed. Choose automated Crawler for overhead, Vortex™ for floors, or handheld VertaJet™.

Mohawk Garnet
Enska by Mohawk Garnet™

A safe, efficient and economical abrasive alternative to slag and sand products. More information
at 1.866.642.7638 or Email for follow up –

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail