- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 28, 2003

A 70-year-old architect died yesterday of suffocation while inspecting a garage in Northwest. Officials said John Wiebenson had been inspecting the garage, in the 2100 block of 14th Street for the nonprofit Martha’s Table. He was found dead at about 11 a.m. in a crawl space underneath the garage.

D.C. Battalion Fire Chief Wayne Benson said the oxygen content of the air where Mr. Wiebenson was found was 4.5 percent. The normal level is about 21 percent.

“There is nothing to indicate foul play,” he said.

The garage is slated to be an annex to Martha’s Table, a community soup kitchen at 2114 14th St. The site will house after-school programs for teenagers. Mr. Wiebenson was the father of the director of Martha’s Table, located a block away from the site of the accident. He was hired as the chief architect for the renovation project and was a partner in the D.C. architecture firm Wiebenson and Dorman Architects PC. Mr. Wiebenson was a longtime Washington-area resident. “He went down there this morning to inspect the work,” said Veronica Parke, a volunteer at Martha’s Table. “He was an outstanding member of the community.”

Family members gathered near the scene as police conducted the investigation. Three rescue squads, including one specializing in trench rescues, extricated the body. At about 2:30 p.m., the body was brought out on a stretcher, and family members were led into the garage. They exited a few minutes later crying and consoling one another. The body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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