Ceiling Collapses, Texas FFs Rescue 4


Four construction workers were injured Friday morning when a ceiling collapsed on top of them at the construction of the new extension of the Cadena Reeves Justice Center.

About 144 construction workers were at the expansion site in the 300 block of Dolorosa when the roof caved in at about 9:15 a.m.

"It made a noise when the ceiling (came) down," said Juan Santacruz, a construction worker. "They came and got me out."

One of the injured workers made it out on his own and suffered minor injuries. Firefighters had to rescue three others who were trapped in the rubble. They were taken to Brooke Army Medical Center with serious injuries.

Rico Godinez, a construction worker said he and others did all they could to help.

"We just tried to help out the other guys," he said. "Hopefully, they are OK."

After the four injured workers were located and transported, a scaffolding company stepped in to shore-up the building and make it safe enough for crews to re-enter and make sure no one else was trapped

Another search of the building turned up nothing.

With a 20-by-70-foot portion of the second floor ceiling down, there was still concern that more workers could be trapped. Once the building was deemed safe enough for a secondary search, crews sent in cadaver dogs to go over the area once more.

"What we know right now is no one is trapped and everyone is accounted for," said Zachry spokeswoman Tara Snowden. "Our main ceoncern right now is the care of the workers."

While while the official cause of the collapse is still under investigation, Godinez gave his take on it.

"Too much weight, I guess," he said.

Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were on the scene to investigate a cause. The building will be closed until further notice and security will be monitoring the site.

The county and Zachry Construction broke ground about 18 months ago in what was the parking lot of the justice center.

It's the county's first foray into green building. The $51 million expansion will be a Silver Leed certified project, meaning it's designed to be environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

Eventually, it will be home to the district attorney's office, district clerk, county clerk, auditor and others.

It is scheduled to be completed in the fall, but some offices are scheduled to start moving in this summer.

After Friday's partial ceiling collapse, it is unknown if that timetable now gets pushed back.

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