The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 10, 2012

Worker killed at garage collapse at college

By Suzette Laboy
Associated Press

MIAMI — A section of a parking garage under construction at a community college collapsed Wednesday, killing one worker and trapping at least two others in the rubble, officials said. Several other workers were hurt.

The two trapped workers used cellphones to talk to rescue teams, Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Griselle Marino said. Dogs, firefighters and other people in hard hats walked over piles of concrete, plywood and metal rubble to look for other possible victims.

Victoria Buczynski of Miami said she saw the collapse while she was working at Gurkha Cigars across the street from the construction site at the Miami-Dade College.

“It fell to the ground like a house of cards,” Buczynski said. “The construction workers started running out, screaming. It was loud. Our entire building shook.”

The large section of the nearly completed five-story garage fell shortly before 11:40 a.m. No students were in the area at the time, authorities said.

Firefighters, police officers and workers in hard hats flooded the construction site. The cause of the collapse was not immediately known.

“We just know that the roof collapsed,” Marino said.

Four workers were taken to the hospital, including one in serious condition, Marino said. Three others were treated by paramedics at the scene.

The construction site looked like a typical one. A large crane stood beside the pile of rubble. Pickup trucks, a trash bin and tractor-trailer were nearby, as were ladders, a cooler and piles of wood and metal.

The construction of the 1,855-space garage appeared to be nearly complete. Ground was broken on the $22.5 million project in February, and it was to be completed in December, according to the website of the contractor, Ajax Building Corp.

The first floor was to have classroom and office space. The structure is nestled closely near to other buildings at the college, which serves about 8,000 students and is one of several campuses in the Miami-Dade College system. This campus opened in 2006.

An Ajax spokeswoman declined comment and said a company safety crew was en route to the scene.

The identity of the worker who died was not immediately released.