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Worker Trapped In Collapsed Silo Presumed Dead

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Silo Roof Collapse

One worker fell when the roof collapsed in a silo at a concrete production facility just north of Miami on 8/17/12. (Source: CBS4)

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I-Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It appears an employee who was on the roof of a silo at a cement company when it collapsed Friday morning did not survive the fall, according to the Miami-Dade Fire Department.

Rescue workers spent much of Friday at the 200-foot tall silo in Medley at the Titan America facility, looking for Pierre Mezidor, 58.

“We did an exhaustive search inside the silo,” said Lt. Arnold Piedrahita of the Miami-Dade Fire Department.

“We did everything we could to find this missing employee under very difficult circumstances,” Piedrahita told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench. “But we do not believe he could have survived this fall. We were hopeful that we would find him alive because this is what we have been trained to do.”

Investigators said they have switched from a rescue mission to a recovery effort.

But Mezidor’s family said they are not ready to give up hope and said their faith is guiding them in this difficult time.

“At this point, we’re still hopeful. As crazy as it seems, we’re still hopeful,” Sophia Pierre, Mezidor’s stepdaughter told CBS 4’s Carey Codd.

Sophia Pierre said her stepfather worked at Titan America for 19 years.

“He’s just the most reliable employee because they can call him at any time and he’s ready and willing to work,” she said.

Mezidor’s family said they were in shock that they might have lost someone so loving and selfless.

“He’s a wonderful, wonderful father, grandfather, friend, uncle, cousin,” Sophia Pierre said. “He’s all around wonderful.”

Late Friday afternoon, a CBS4 crew captured rescue workers being lowered into the silo in what Piedrahita said was a “man bucket” in order to see if they could find the missing employee. He said they were also using microphones and special cameras in the search as well.

Upon the roof’s collapsing, the worker and its rubble tumbling down between 50 and 100 feet. A second silo that was attached to the collapsed silo was also damaged.

The rescue operation, which was postponed early Friday afternoon due to lightning, had not resulted in any contact with the worker.

“Now you can imagine, all that concrete, the weight of the concrete falling on someone, it’s not good,” he said earlier in the day. “But we never give up hope we’re going to try our best if there’s anybody in there alive.”

Titan America, which owns the silo on the Titan Cement property in Medley, issued a statement on the incident late Friday afternoon.

The statement read, in part: “Officials at Titan America deeply regret the incident and emphasize that employee safety is their primary concern. Reasons for the structural collapse are unknown at this point but the company plans to conduct an exhaustive follow-up investigation.”

The cement plant is the largest in Florida.

Titan told rescue workers the silo was 20 percent full of compact dry concrete but rescuers estimate that number might have been higher, around 50 percent.

“Concrete dust is flammable; it’s an explosive hazard as well,” Piedrahita told CBS4′s Kara Kostanich of the complications facing rescue workers.

More than 60 fire fighters responded to the scene along with search and rescue crews and hazmat teams.

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