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OSHA Looks Into Lauderdale Parking Garage Collapse

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A parking structure adjacent to the Broward Courthouse collapsed Sept. 5,  2012. It was in the process of being demolished at the time. Two people suffered minor injuries. (CBS4)

A parking structure adjacent to the Broward Courthouse collapsed Sept. 5, 2012. It was in the process of being demolished at the time. Two people suffered minor injuries. (CBS4)

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FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Structural engineers from the city and county were looking at what was left of the Broward courthouse parking garage, after it collapsed during demolition on Wednesday afternoon.

Chief Judge Peter Weinstein asked that engineers make sure everything was safe.

“This building is not structurally sound,” said Weinstein who was working in his office right next to the demolition scene when he heard a thunderous noise.  “They were doing construction all day but the shaking of the building got my attention.”

Weinstein says what struck him more than anything else was that hundreds of people used to park in the garage before demolition began.  The garage is being leveled to make way for a new courthouse tower which will stand 20 stories tall when complete.

What got me thinking is we had 400 people parking there every day.  If it was that easy to come down, it’s something to think about,” said Weinstein.

The whole mishap was captured on a cell phone camera by Eddie Vargas who works across the street at the new NYC deli located in the 100 tower.

Vargas who says he ‘shoots everything’, started rolling when he saw a crane operator start to chip away at the building.

“The smoke started filling up the whole street.   Nobody could breathe.  I opened up the door and started telling people to come in,” said Vargas.

Thirty stories above in the 110 Tower across the street from the collapsed garage, Van Johnson heard the collapse and started shooting pictures.

“I just jumped up and said, it’s the parking garage, the whole parking garage fell down,” said Watson.

“People were running around downstairs making sure everyone was okay. Then we started to hear the fire trucks coming and that’s when we knew something was wrong.  It wasn’t supposed to fall quite as quickly as it did.”

On Thursday, Lester Grove with the OSHA Ft. Lauderdale office confirmed that an investigation is underway into what caused the garage to collapse.

Grove said the investigation could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

Fortunately no one was killed.

A security guard and construction worker suffered minor injuries from falling debris.

Geoff Bunnell the Senior Vice President for the construction company James A. Cummings Inc. said all the construction workers tearing down the garage were already outside the building.

“They anticipated a collapse of a portion of the garage so they were prepared for at least a partial collapse of the building,” Bunnell said.

Bunnell was not commenting on Thursday.

Thursday afternoon demolition work resumed.

“Maybe (it’s) a big bonus for them. They got an 8-week job done in 48 hours,” said Willie Banks, who runs a BBQ stand nearby.

Bunnell said the unexpected collapse may indeed speed up this portion of the project but they still need to know what brought the structure down.

 

 

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