Police: 3rd victim of Fla. garage collapse dies

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MIAMI (AP) — A man who was pulled early Thursday from the rubble of a collapsed parking garage at Miami Dade College has died, police said, bringing the death toll to three.

One person was still missing, Miami-Dade police said.

The man who died Thursday morning at a Miami trauma center had been trapped for about 13 hours following the collapse of the five-story structure that was under construction at the west Miami-Dade campus, said Miami-Dade police spokesman Javier Baez.

Miami-Dade Police Lt. Rosanna Cordero-Stutz said rescue crews were saddened to learn that the man pulled from the rubble had died. They had spent a good part of Wednesday communicating with him before he was taken to the hospital early Thursday. Rescue workers found that man after hearing his cries amid the rubble.

“It’s saddening because at the end of the day you know we are recovering a deceased person, not a live person,” she said of the ongoing recovery effort. “But we have to give closure to these families.”

Police identified two of the men who died as Jose Calderon and Carlos Hurtado de Mendoza. The man who died at the trauma center Thursday morning was not yet identified.

A press conference with officials from the company contracted to build the garage is planned for 11 a.m. Police have not released the names of any victims.

Another man was pulled out alive and brought to a hospital shortly after the collapse, Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue spokeswoman Griselle Marino said. A video shot by Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue and provided to The Associated Press showed four firefighters pulling him out from under a steel beam. His face and hands were bloody, and he was carried away on a stretcher.

At least seven workers were brought to the hospital with unidentified injuries, while an eighth was treated on the scene and sent home.

There were no students in the area because the garage was under construction. The campus was evacuated and closed for the rest of the week. Investigators planned to pick through the rubble to see what caused the garage to crumble.

One worker was still unaccounted for, and authorities expected to find at least one more body in the rubble, said Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue Assistant Chief David Downey.

Downey said it was highly unlikely anyone left in the rubble would still be alive, and that authorities would now focus on recovery rather than rescue.

Victoria Buczynski of Miami said she saw the collapse while she was working at Gurkha Cigars across the street from the construction site.

“It fell to the ground like a house of cards,” Buczynski said. “The construction workers started running out, screaming. It was loud. Our entire building shook.”

William P. Byrne, president and chief executive officer of the garage contractor, Ajax Building Corp., said an internal review was being launched to determine the cause. Byrne said the company would embrace “any additional protocols, policies and procedures that will enhance and ensure the continued priority of safety.”

Ground was broken on the $22.5 million project in February, and the 1,855-space garage was to be finished in December, according to Ajax’s website. The first floor was to have classroom and office space. The structure is next to the college’s main office building and nestled among other campus buildings.

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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Associated Press Writer Freida Frisaro contributed to this report in Miami.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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