Three construction workers are dead and 20 people were injured after the top floors of an 18-story, half-built Hard Rock Hotel collapsed on October 12. The building was under construction at the edge of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Most of the approximately 100 construction workers at the construction site were uninjured, but three workers were declared dead and 20 others were rushed to area hospitals.
Emergency crews worked throughout the day to try and find the three workers in the rubble. Much of the debris fell on North Rampart Street, but there are no reports of anyone being hurt by debris falling onto the pavement.
“Today’s collapse was a tragedy, and our hearts break for the loss of life,” Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement. “Our focus is on continuing to secure the site and to doing everything we can to support the families impacted as rescue efforts continue.”
Two construction cranes used to erect the building are still standing and are reportedly dangerous and unstable. Authorities made plans to bring them down using explosives on Friday, but the demolition may be delayed because of a coming storm.
Cantrell warned the public to avoid the area and declared a state of emergency Thursday to allow police to “commandeer or utilize any private property,” and force people out of nearby buildings, among other measures.
Authorities haven’t said what caused the collapse. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has partnered with the New Orleans Police Department to conduct a parallel investigation into the collapse.
Evidence preservation began soon after the collapse. OSHA workers have reportedly gathered documents, files, computers, and more from various points in the building. The items have been locked up until further review.
“I can’t comment on the kind, but I can say every single document, computer book, anything inside the building that would have been a recordation,” sad New Orleans Fire Department Chief Tim McConnell, according to news sources. “Blueprints were recorded where it was located within those offices. They have temporary offices. It was all collected and put into boxes that recorded the location it came from.”
A lawsuit has already been filed against the five companies involved in the project on behalf of some of the injured people. The suit alleges that cost-cutting measures led to the use of poor materials, and that the project’s owner and contractors were aware of worker concerns that some of the materials used were too “thin.”
The companies named in the suit are Citadel Builders, 1031 Canal Development, Harry Baker Smith Architects, Heaslip Engineering, and Kailas Companies.
Workers injured in the hotel collapse, as well as the families of the workers killed, are entitled to workers’ compensation claims. Injured workers are entitled to benefits, such as medical care, disability benefits, and death benefits.
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If you or your loved one was injured at a job site, you should hire an attorney. Contact us for a free initial consultation and work with one of South Florida’s most experienced workers’ compensation defense attorneys.