Miami-Dade College West parking garage collapses

Published On: Oct 10 2012 05:16:51 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 11 2012 12:12:25 AM EDT

Rescuers are trying to reach a trapped construction worker after the Miami-Dade College West parking garage collapsed. The cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

DORAL, Fla. -

Two people were killed when a parking garage collapsed at Miami-Dade College West in Doral. Another person remained trap inside.

The five-story garage is located at 3800 Northwest 115th Street. It collapsed about 11:40 a.m. Wednesday.

"I just seen a lot of smoke and buildings shaking and it just started collapsing," said one witness.

"Everybody ran out for their safety," said another witness.

"We got here and pieces of the building were still falling off," said Doral Police Chief Ricardo Gomez. "It was really hectic."

One man said he felt shaken after making it out just in time.

Firefighters said the floors of the garage collapsed on top of each other, describing it as a pancake collapse.

"We hoped that the people who were in there were caught in void -- void spaces. But pancake collapses don't usually have many void spaces," said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Lt. Arnold Piedrahita.

According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, four people were transported to nearby hospital; three were treated on scene and released; and, two were killed. The second person who died was found in the rubble. Another person was also unaccounted for. Another person remained trapped inside about 6 p.m. That person was in contact with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

At least one person was listed in critical condition. The extent of the injuries of the others was not immediately released.

Fernandez called the collapse the largest he had seen in the county.

"The extent of our operation is one of the most intense we've seen here," said Fernandez. "These types of collapses are resource intensive but time of the essence for our rescuers for this last victim."

Miami-Dade's Urban Search and Rescue unit was called in to free the three people who didn't make it out in time. A trauma surgeon was on standby in case he had to cut out a worker whose legs were trapped in the debris.

"We do life over limb. If you're going to die, and we have to cut off an arm or leg, we're going to do it," said Piedrahita.

A total of 96 Miami-Dade Fire Rescue units were on scene, or about 300 MDFR personnel. Rescuers were able to free the victim without amputating.

Fire rescue used search dogs and fiber optic cameras to look for more victims. Fernandez said rescuers could be searching the debris for days. It's unclear if there are other victims inside the debris.

The cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

Gallery

PHOTOS: Parking garage collapses

The MDC campus was evacuated because of its proximity to the garage. The campus will be closed through at least the end of the week, according to a spokesperson for MDC. No students or staff were injured.

Northwest 115th Avenue between 34th and 41 Street will remain closed throughout the week.

Officials with MDC said the garage, which was to have about 1,800 spaces, had been under construction for about five months without incident. It was to create more parking for the 5,000 students on campus.

According to The Reporter, the MDC's student newspaper, the $24 million parking garage broke ground in February. It was expected to be completed in late December.

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