- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

Two construction workers were killed, one was critically injured and another was reported missing after a partially completed wall of an eight-story parking garage being built in Rockville collapsed yesterday afternoon, fire and rescue officials said.
The four workers were believed to have been on the fourth level of the garage near the Twinbrook Metro station when the collapse occurred about 4 p.m. yesterday, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Department.
The cause of the collapse was not known.
More than 100 firefighters and rescuers kept observers and reporters far from the site last night while they used dogs and heat-seeking devices to search the debris for the missing worker. About 8 p.m. a search dog alerted its handler that it had found something, Mr. Piringer said, adding that rescuers hoped it was the missing worker. The body of one worker was still in the rubble at 8:45 p.m.
The county's Urban Search and Rescue Team, which participated in the search of rubble at the Pentagon after the September 11 terrorist attack, was among the searchers last night.
Firefighters, fearing another collapse, evacuated buildings around the site at Twinbrook Parkway and Fishers Lane, Mr. Piringer said. Officials established a no-fly zone around the area.
Another partially completed wall was still standing nearby after the collapse. Citing forecasts of strong winds and heavy rains beginning at 1 a.m. today, rescue workers expressed concern that the wall would fall down during their search, Mr. Piringer said.
"It doesn't make it any easier," he said. "We're watching it very closely."
Mr. Piringer said rescuers planned to buttress the garage walls and ceilings to prevent a second collapse. The search was temporarily halted over concerns that a large crane holding a concrete slab might topple, he said, adding that efforts resumed after the slab was removed. Rescuers also worried that the partial wall would collapse onto the crane.
A second crane was brought in about 8:30 p.m. to remove slabs of concrete from the site.
A Metro spokeswoman said the garage is not a parking facility for the subway system. The collapse did not hamper subway service, but street closures might affect some bus routes, she said.
The injured worker was taken to the intensive-care unit of Suburban Hospital. The worker, described by hospital officials as a Hispanic man in his 30s, received a tracheotomy and was breathing with the assistance of a machine last night.
Officials did not identify any workers, other than to say that they are Hispanic.
Fifteen construction workers were inside the garage when it collapsed, and 11 escaped without injury, Mr. Piringer said, describing the incident as an industrial accident.
A law enforcement source at the scene last night said criminal charges could be filed if faulty construction is determined to be the cause of the collapse.
Stanley Manvell, vice president of safety for James G. Davis Construction, the contractor on the site, said workers were putting in prefabricated concrete sections for the garage and welding them to the building.
The building has been under construction about six weeks, and was 60 percent to 70 percent finished. "We're still trying to determine what happened," Mr. Manvell said.
Larry Lilley, who works nearby, told Baltimore television station WJZ-TV (Channel 13) that he heard a "huge rumble."
"It sounded at first like thunder but, you know, it lasted way too long for thunder and it's just a low rumbling noise," Mr. Lilley said.
He then ran outside.
"We saw a huge cloud of dust coming up," he said, adding that he could tell a new portion that was just being put together had fallen down.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.



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