DORAL (CBSMiami/AP) – Members of the Miami-Dade police and fire departments, along with members of other county agencies, gathered Thursday to come up with a plan as to how they were going to handle the investigation into what caused the collapse of a five story parking garage which was under construction on the West Campus of Miami-Dade College.
Three men died as a result of the collapse, one man remains missing. Miami-Dade police, the lead agency in the recovery effort, said they hope they’ll be able to locate him on Friday.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time for everybody to gather together and get a plan of action together,” said police spokeswoman Rosanna Cordero-Stutz. “That is the priority today, the priority today is to find that missing person.”
For Laurel Budhoo and her family it is a difficult wait. Her husband of 34 years, Robert, is the man who is missing.
“I’m praying that they will find my husband, I need him, I need him,” said Budhoo, “My babies all need him.”
His brother Michael told CBS4’s Kara Kostanich.”It’s like we are all very nervous. We are just trying to get through this.”
Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue Assistant Chief David Downey said it was highly unlikely anyone left in the rubble would still be alive, and that authorities would now focus on recovery rather than rescue.
Early Thursday morning 53-year old Samuel Perez, who had been trapped for 13 hours in the rubble, was freed. He was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he died hours later.
“Imagine being trapped for 13 hours, imagine the suffering, unfortunately, the pain that goes with that,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain Louie Fernandez.
Rescue workers were forced to amputate his legs so they could pull him from the cab of his truck around 1:15 a.m, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. Perez was located by rescuers who heard his cries from amid the rubble not long after the roof of the garage fell around noon on Wednesday, creating a pancake-style collapse.
More on the victims:
The two other men killed in the collapse have been identified as 48-year old Carlos Hurtado de Mendoza and 60-year old Jose Calderon, according to Miami-Dade police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta.
Calderon’s widow is distraught.
“He was a good man. A Hard working person,” said Marisol Caldaron.
She told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “We have 2 children, 15 and 22. It was 2 o’clock this morning when the police came to let me know that my husband was dead.”
“He had not been working for 3 years. Then he started working with them 2 months ago. Someone has to be responsible for this. I need help. I need the community’s help. I have no money. I need the community’s help.”
Seven workers were brought to the hospital with unidentified injuries while an eighth was treated on the scene and sent home. The injured men are Porfirio Apolinario, 47; Francisco Castaneda, 32; Anthony Williams, 27; Joseph Barnes, Meregilio Castillo, Frank Stankus and Mark Diballo. Police have confirmed that Stankus and Diballo have been released from the hospital.
D’Oench caught up with Williams at his home in Northwest Miami-Dade. That’s where he said, “I can’t really talk. Call my attorney.”
When D’Oench asked him how he was doing, he told him, “I am still in pain.”
CBS4’s Tiffani Helberg caught up with the step-son of Castaneda who showed her pictures of Castaneda at Kendall Regional Medical Center, where he has a brace around his neck and injured his shoulder, arm and knee.
“It’s good that God was on his side,” he told Helberg. He told her that Castaneda’s wife was at his side.
The CEO of Ajax Building Construction, the general contractor on the project, said at a news conference that investigators are trying to figure out what caused the structure to collapse.
“We don’t know what caused the accident and anything else would be speculation on my part,” said William Byrne. “I am just deeply saddened that this event has happened and that there were people injured and died. We’re just focusing on the healing process and moving forward.”
Byrne said the company would embrace “any additional protocols, policies and procedures that will enhance and ensure the continued priority of safety.”
The campus will be closed for the rest of the week.
Ground was broken on the $22.5 million garage in February with the completion date set for this December, according to Ajax’s website.
Work stopped at the site around 7 Thursday night and will resume at 7 in the morning.