Inspectors seek cause of building collapse

Some work resumes at incomplete parking structure in Westminster

April 05, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Some construction resumed yesterday at the site of a parking garage collapse in Westminster, but workers were prevented from going near the area where a concrete slab that was to have been part of the roof-level parking deck came crashing down a day earlier.

One of the men who was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center after the accident was recuperating yesterday at his West Virginia home, said the man's son-in-law and co-worker, who added that the other co-worker flown out was more seriously injured and is likely to miss eight weeks of work.

A third worker was treated for minor injuries at Carroll County General Hospital and released Thursday.

Westminster officials vowed yesterday to get the $2.85 million project back on track as soon as possible. It had been scheduled for completion in July.

"Our structural engineers and MOSH [Maryland Occupational Safety and Health] are making a thorough assessment," said Thomas B. Beyard, Westminster's director of planning and public works. "Most of the structure is fine, although some panels will have to be removed because of the damage. We are developing a plan of action."

State safety inspectors were continuing their investigation, but Karen Napolitano, spokeswoman for the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which oversees MOSH, would not release any information on their findings.

Yesterday, yellow tape surrounded the garage, and the crane that lifted the slabs was still, its cable attached to the shattered concrete. A foreman for Kinsley Construction, the general contractor, said he had about 25 workers on the site. Some were doing grading, others were working on amenities such as the pads for trash bins, said the foreman, who would not give his name.

Work on the incomplete building is at a standstill, and the contractor has no idea when work will resume, the foreman said. Attempts to reach Kinsley officials were unsuccessful.

Scott Christopher, a rigger for E.E. Marr Erectors Inc., a Baltimore-based subcontractor, said he plans to be at work Monday along with his 40-year-old father-in-law, Terry D. White, who was released from Shock Trauma Thursday evening.

"He has no broken bones, just feels like he was beaten up," Christopher said.

White and a co-worker, Serafin Louis Soto, 34, of Arlington, Va., apparently were working on the top deck of the project when a concrete slab being lowered into place by the crane gave way.

The crane will be inspected today, said Kirk Edwards, vice president of E.E. Marr. He said yesterday that he anticipates resuming work as early as Monday. "The crane had nothing to do with the accident," Edwards said.

Witnesses, police and construction workers have offered conflicting versions of what happened. Some described a cracking of the concrete, while others said the crane cable snapped.

"We can't come to any conclusions," Beyard said. "That is what MOSH will determine."

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