Two independent sources with knowledge of the investigation into the Oct. 10 collapse of a parking garage at Miami Dade College have refuted a claim reported by Engineering News-Record that the structure was struck a second time by a crane pick just prior to the fatal incident.
Officials with the project's general contractor, Ajax Building Corp., were the first to dispute the claim. Bill Byrne, president of the Tallahassee, Fla.-based firm, stated by e-mail, "We are not aware of any precast panels having hit the structure. [And] we are not aware of any crack that required inspection."
In the e-mail to ENR, company officials also stated, "Ajax continues to work very closely with [the Occupational Safety & Health Administration] and others to determine what happened to cause the tragic accident at MDC."
Additionally, a source involved in one of the numerous investigations under way at the site told ENR that the story reporting that a crane had struck the building for a second time was "erroneous."
ENR's story reported information from an anonymous source with detailed knowledge of the incident who asserted that a crane pick involving a precast section had struck a building column for a second time on Oct. 10, just prior to the collapse. He said the previously cracked column had been further damaged. The source also said the crane was lifting "tilt-wall" panels, but Ajax reports that no tilt-wall panels were used on the project site.
The roughly 125,000-sq-ft structure collapsed near midday on Oct. 10, killing four workers.
Ajax's Byrne acknowledged a day after the incident that a crane operated by Sims Crane & Equipment Co., Tampa, had struck a building column with its boom on Oct. 8, damaging the crane, but he asserted it had not caused any damage to the structure.
Officials from OSHA would not comment on the still-open investigation.
The Miami-Dade Police Dept.'s homicide division also is conducting an ongoing investigation into the collapse. According to department officials, detectives are awaiting additional engineering reports.
Two lawsuits related to the collapse have been filed in Miami-Dade circuit court by family members of victims.
In October, Stuart Grossman, of Grossman Roth P.A., Coral Gables, representing the family of Jose Calderon, a worker with Solar Erectors, filed a wrongful death suit. The filing names Ajax Building Corp. Southeast, M.A.R. Contracting Inc., MEP Structural Engineering and Inspections, Bliss & Nyitray and Harvard Jolly Inc. as defendants.
Miami law firm Alan Goldfarb P.A., filed suit on Oct. 23 on behalf of the widow of Robert Budhoo, a worker with Stryker Electrical Contracting. The lawsuit originally named as defendants Ajax Building Corp., Coreslab Structures, Harvard Jolly, Bliss & Nyitray, Sims Crane & Equipment Co. and Solar Erectors. Liah Catanese, an attorney with Alan Goldfarb, told ENR the firm is preparing a revised complaint that will add additional firms to the suit.
Both law firms told ENR that they hired numerous engineering firms to conduct investigations.