Parking Garage Collapses In Doral At Miami-Dade College, One Dead, Others Trapped

3:19 PM, Oct 10, 2012   |    comments
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DORAL, Florida (CBSMiami) - A nearly completed parking garage at the West Campus of Miami-Dade College collapsed Wednesday morning leaving one person dead, several people injured and one person still trapped in the rubble.

Crews on scene estimated that around 30 workers were in the garage during the collapse. Reports from the scene said electricians, plumbers and other workers were in the garage when it collapsed.

"I was just sitting at my desk and it just so happens that I turned around and I looked because I have a window and as soon as I look, I see the first rack hit and a whole bunch of dust comes up," said witness Kayla Pulido, who has an office across the street from the garage. "And people were screaming, and I run out and one of my co-workers starts to call 911. I know their was people up there, because this morning you could see them putting up things. I was terrified."

According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, one person was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, four were taken to Kendall Trauma, three were treated on the scene and released, one was trapped, and two workers were unaccounted for.

As of 3 p.m., Captain Louis Fernandez of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue told our sister station WFOR CBS4 one person was still trapped under the debris, but the structural integrity was making the rescue effort difficult.

Miami-Dade College director of communications Juan Mendieta said the collapse was "a very tragic situation," and that "our thoughts are with the construction workers."

The building, located at 3800 NW 115th Avenue in Doral, was being built by the Ajax Building Corporation at a cost of $22.5 million. The garage was just two months from being completed and was being built using a precast concrete design.

Mendieta said the college serves around 8,000 students, but none were injured. The school will remain closed the rest of the week and classes for next week will be reassessed after safety engineers have had a chance to inspect all the buildings on the campus.

Joel Guevara was a student in a classroom adjacent to the garage and likened the collapse to an earthquake.

"It felt like an earthquake and we just kept doing our work and five minutes later we heard sirens telling us to go toward the cafeteria," Guevara said. "They told us it was too unsafe."

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue dispatched more than 90 fire-rescue units to the scene and Capt. Fernandez said more than 300 fire-rescue personnel were on the scene.

From Chopper 4, it appeared that there were some vehicles under the section that collapsed.

One student on Twitter described the collapse saying, the "entire campus just shook."

Inspections of the garage as it was being built, as well as permitting of the work, was performed by Miami-Dade College and not the city or county. According to the school's website, the garage was designed to incorporate a shell classroom and office space on level one with parking on 5 levels above.

Capt. Fernandez said the collapse was one of the largest ever seen in Miami-Dade County and said it was a "pancake" collapse where each floor collapse onto the one below it.

Doral Boulevard between NW 107th Avenue and the Florida Turnpike is currently closed. The Turnpike exits to NW 41st have also been closed.

Fernandez said investigators will be on the scene for several days trying to get to the bottom of what caused the massive structure to collapse.

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