Man Still Missing, 3 Killed in Miami Dade College Garage Collapse: Police

Three workers killed, one still missing and several others injured in garage collapse

By Julia Bagg, Willard Shepard, Brian Hamacher and Lisa Orkin Emmanuel
|  Friday, Oct 12, 2012  |  Updated 12:48 AM EDT
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On Thursday Bill Byrne, the president of the Ajax Building Corp., was looking for the technical reasons why three men died in the collapse. Miami Dade College spokesman Juan Mendieta said the building had been inspected routinely, as early as the day before it caved in on Wednesday.

On Thursday Bill Byrne, the president of the Ajax Building Corp., was looking for the technical reasons why three men died in the collapse. Miami Dade College spokesman Juan Mendieta said the building had been inspected routinely, as early as the day before it caved in on Wednesday.

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Photos and Videos

RAW VIDEO: Helicopter Footage of Miami-Dade College Parking Garage Collapse Day 2

Aerial footage of the collapsed garage at Miami-Dade College in Doral on Thursday. Three people have died and at least nine others have been injured from the Wednesday collapse.

Miami-Dade College Garage Collapse Press Conference

Ajax Building Corp. President William Byrne spoke to the media on Thursday about the Miami-Dade College garage collapse, where three people have died and at least nine others were injured. Ajax is managing the project, a spokeswoman said.
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One man remained missing in the rubble of a collapsed parking garage at Miami Dade College Thursday as firefighters pulled out of the school's west campus for the night.

Authorities said they don't believe the missing man is alive. Family members identified him as Robert Budhoo. His daughter, Tasha Budhoo, said he had been working at the site about three weeks. She said he had worked there before as well.

Budhoo's brother, Steve Budhoo, said, "I'm shook up, adding that it was hard for him to look at the debris.

We "break down and then we console each other," he said.

Earlier, a third victim died, just hours after he was pulled out of the debris.

As Thursday began, Samuel Perez, 53, was pulled from the rubble by rescue workers around 1 a.m., about 13 hours after the collapse, Miami-Dade Police said.

Rescue workers had to amputate both of Perez's legs above the knees to free him from the debris, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials said. He was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he later died around 4 a.m., Miami-Dade Police said.

"It was an emotional experience for the entire team. The team spent 13 hours in the effort to rescue this individual. It's emotional for everyone who is involved in it. Though you accept the fact that death is a possibility, you always have hope as a rescuer," said Firefighter Michelle Fayed, of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

Police also identified the first two workers killed in the collapse as 48-year-old Carlos Hurtado de Mendoza and 60-year-old Jose Calderon.

At least seven workers were brought to the hospital with unidentified injuries, police said.

WATCH: Fire Rescue extricates worker from the rubble.

VIDEO: Aerial Footage of Collapsed Garage

Hundreds of fire rescue personnel responded to the garage at 3800 Northwest 115th Avenue in Doral after a portion of the five-story garage collapsed around 11:40 a.m. Wednesday.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Louie Fernandez said it was a "pancake-style collapse."

VIDEO: Authorities Free Worker From Rubble of Collapsed Garage

"It was a floor upon floor, collapsing all the way down to the ground floor," Fernandez said.

No students were in the garage, which was under construction.

William P. Byrne, president and chief executive officer of the company managing the project, Ajax Building Corp., held a news conference Thursday where he said there was "no warning whatsoever" of the collapse.

"We do not yet know the cause of this tragic collapse and it's far too early to speculate," Byrne said. "We will conduct a thorough and transparent review with all of our partners."

PHOTOS: Miami-Dade College Garage Collapse

Byrne said the construction of the garage was nearly completed and was scheduled to open in December. He said there are inspections at the site regularly.

"It doesn't compare to anything else I've ever encountered in my career," Byrne said, adding that the workers who died were employees of subcontractors.

Byrne said once the investigation is complete, they'll bring in a team to determine what's safe and what's not.

"Our first order of business is to make sure everything's safe, second is to get Miami-Dade College back in business and then third would be to start to assemble the process to remove the debris and reconstruct the facility," Byrne said.

VIDEO: Byrne Talks to the Media About Garage Collapse

College spokesman Juan Mendieta said the school would be closed for the rest of the week and officials want to make sure everything is safe before the campus reopens. The garage is connected to the campus' main building.

"What really troubles us is this building was scheduled to open in December, and with all due respect to the victims who lost their lives, had this tragedy happened a couple of months from now with 1500 cars park and potentially hundreds of students, this would have been a global catastrophe," said Mendieta.

Mendieta said the project was put out for a competitive bidding process and was in compliance with state laws.

“In the 52 years of the college’s history we’ve never had a problem at all, not even a slight blemish until now," Mendieta said. 

A portion of Northwest 115th Avenue between Northwest 34th Street and Northwest 41st Street remained closed Thursday morning due to the collapse. Only local traffic was being allowed.

Byrne has said an internal review was being launched to determine the cause.

Meantime, a team from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began its investigation on the scene Thursday.

Ground was broken on the $22.5 million project in February, and the 1,855-space garage was to be finished in December. The first floor was to have classroom and office space.

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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