2 seriously injured, one missing after Fla. garage collapses
By Ron Word
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A downtown parking garage under construction partially collapsed today, seriously injuring two workers and leaving crews searching in the concrete debris for a missing laborer.
Police didn't know if the missing worker was trapped or if he escaped after the collapse around 6 a.m. Search crews with dogs were looking through visible holes in the rubble and a crane was gingerly lifting chunks of concrete and metal bars.
Misty Skipper, Mayor John Peyton's spokeswoman, said early searches of the perimeter and top of the collapsed structure were complete.
"Our efforts will continue until we are certain there is no one trapped," Skipper said.
Twelve men and one woman were transported to Shands Jacksonville, hospital spokeswoman Kelly Brockmeier said. Of those, two were in serious condition, 10 were in good condition and one was in fair condition. Some of those in good condition have left the hospital, but Brockmeier did not know how many.
Baptist Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Barrow said her hospital had three patients, but two have been released and the other was in good condition. St. Vincent's Medical Center spokesman Erik Kaldor said it also received three injured workers; one was admitted in fair condition, another was treated and released and a third was still being evaluated.
The collapse occurred as workers were pouring concrete on the sixth floor of the garage for a riverfront condominium complex, which is across the street from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. The front half of the garage collapsed, leaving the skeleton of the back half standing. A massive piece of concrete leaned against the still standing portion.
Officials said they don't know what caused the collapse.
"I heard a crack, and then it just crumbled," Rick Caldwell, a construction worker, told The Florida Time-Union. "The whole paving crew was inside ... it was so crazy."
Peyton said at a news conference that the collapse occurred at shift change when workers were arriving and leaving work, so officials are double checking to make sure there are no more missing.
Skipper said the street will remain closed throughout the day to prevent vibrations from endangering search and rescue workers. Police blocked off the road to both vehicles and pedestrians.
James Borders, area director for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, said his agency will investigate the collapse and try to determine what caused it and see if accepted standards were being followed.
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