Worker Killed in Miami, Florida Construction Accident

Aug. 25, 2004
One worker was killed and another was trapped for 45 minutes Wednesday morning when a concrete wall collapsed on them at a Kendall house under construction.

One worker was killed and another was trapped for 45 minutes Wednesday morning when a concrete wall collapsed on them at a Kendall house under construction.

The two men were part of an eight-person construction team building the home at 9760 SW 60th St., a couple blocks away from Glades Middle School.

Just before 9 a.m., while cement was being poured into the walls of a carport-type structure, the building collapsed on top of the two workers, said Miami-Dade police detective Randy Rossman, a department spokesman.

When police and fire rescue arrived, they discovered a 49-year-old man dead at the scene. The victim, whose name was withheld pending notification of family, had been working on the roof of the structure.

Another man in his mid-20's -- later identified by police as Raul Sevilla -- was trapped waist-high underneath the rubble of concrete, metal and wood.

''He was conscious and alert,'' said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Louie Fernandez said. ``He was letting us know he was in pain and his lower extremities were trapped.''

Members of the fire department's Urban Search and Rescue Team, which responds to natural and man-made disasters, used hydraulic tools and high pressure airbags to lift the heavy pieces of wall surrounding the victim, while others dismantled pieces of the wall.

A yellow Labrador retriever named Ranger wandered through the rubble looking for anyone else who may have been buried beneath the construction debris. There was none.

Rescue efforts were especially difficult because the building was under construction and the cement had not hardened into concrete, said Capt. Jeff Strickland, the lead rescuer for Miami-Dade Fire's special operations division.

''The wall was broken up and in the fluid state,'' Strickland said. ``It gave us a challenge.''

Another challenge, fire officials said, was trying to get the man free before he began suffering from ''compartmental syndrome,'' which limits circulation in certain affected body parts and can cause loss of limbs or death, said Fire Rescue Lt. Eric Baum.

A trauma surgeon from Jackson Memorial Hospital arrived at the scene by helicopter with units of blood and other medical equipment.

After nearly an hour, the man was freed and airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in serious condition.

Police, officials from the Miami--Dade Building Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

As fire and police officials surrounded the home, passersby on Southwest 97th Avenue, a busy thoroughfare, stopped to inquire about what had happened.

Maria Castanon, a nearby homeowner, was shocked to learn that she knew the man who had died. The man who was killed, she said, previously did construction work on her home.

She recalled their conversations about his four children.

''He was the most wonderful person you could ever meet,'' said a teary-eyed Castanon. ``He worked 15 hours a day and never complained. He was a marvelous worker.''

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