Parking Garage Collapse: Man dies after being pulled from rubble

10:34 AM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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DORAL (CBSMiami/AP) - A man trapped for 13 hours in the rubble of a collapsed five-story parking garage on the West Campus of Miami-Dade College before he was freed early Thursday morning has died at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

"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 53-year old Samuel Perez's 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.

The collapse killed two other people.  They've been identified as 48-year old Carlos Jurtado Demendoza and 60-year old Jose Calderon, according to Miami-Dade police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta.

Seven workers were brought to the hospital with unidentified injuries while an eighth was treated on the scene and sent home. One man is still missing. 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.

Saving people from collapsed structures is something Miami-Dade Fire Rescue trains for, but to hear about lives lost weighs heavily on rescue workers.

"They have seen this type of collapse before, they have worked this type of incident before, it doesn't make it any easier, but they stick to the task, they work as a team and they try to bring out as many live victims as they can, " said Fernandez.

There were no students in the area because the garage was under construction. The campus was evacuated and will closed for the rest of the week. Investigators planned to pick through the rubble to see what caused the garage to crumble.

"We just know that the roof collapsed," said Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Griselle Marino.

Victoria Buczynski of Miami said she saw the collapse while she was working at Gurkha Cigars across the street from the construction site at the Miami-Dade College.

"It fell to the ground like a house of cards," Buczynski said. "The construction workers started running out, screaming. It was loud. Our entire building shook."

William P. Byrne, president and chief executive officer of the garage contractor, Ajax Building Corp., said an internal review was being launched to determine the cause. Byrne said the company would embrace "any additional protocols, policies and procedures that will enhance and ensure the continued priority of safety."

Ground was broken on the $22.5 million project in February, and the 1,855-space garage was to be finished in December, according to Ajax's website. The first floor was to have classroom and office space. The structure is next to the college's main office building and nestled among other campus buildings.

The college serves about 8,000 students and is one of several campuses in the Miami-Dade College system. The campus opened in 2006.

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