Washington DC

‘Traumatized': Construction Worker Rescued From DC Building Collapse Has Long Recovery Ahead

The collapse left him paralyzed, his sister says

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A construction worker who spent more than 90 minutes trapped beneath three stories of debris when a building collapsed in D.C. has a lengthy recovery ahead and is traumatized from what happened, his sister says.

Leonardo Moreto DaSilva, 27, was working on a building in the 900 block of Kennedy Street NW Thursday afternoon when it suddenly collapsed.

"He remembers hearing a crack and then, like, in a few seconds, the building collapsed. He said there was no time to even think," DaSilva's sister Leidiane Guimaraes said.

Firefighters sawed through layer upon layer of rubble to get to DaSilva, who had only eight inches of space around him.

"He thought he was going to die," Guimaraes said.

After more than an hour-and-a-half, firefighters pulled him from the collapse and onto a stretcher.

"When he was rescued, the first thing he said was 'Call my mom.' My mom doesn’t even know that he’s at the hospital. I, I don’t even know how to tell her," Guimaraes said.

DaSilva is a civil engineer from Brazil and came to the U.S. to pursue a master's degree.

Guimaraes, an Army veteran, spends her days at the hospital with him. She said she's thankful he survived, but heartbroken that he will have a difficult recovery.

She said he had surgery on his spine and is paralyzed. Doctors don't think he will ever walk again, she said.

"He’s going to suffer a lot, and I know that and that breaks my heart," she said.

"Mentally, he’s not okay. He’s very traumatized. He’s in shock."

Guimaraes said she wants to know what caused the collapse.

"I am going to fight for my brother," she said.

Guimaraes established a GoFundMe page to fund DaSilva's medical bills as he didn't have insurance.

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