Miami, FL Partial Building Collapse, Aug 1974
OFFICE BUILDING COLLAPSE KILLS 4.
Miami (UPI) -- A corner of a downtown building housing the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration crashed to the ground with "a deafening road" Monday, crushing four people to death, injuring at least nine others and trapping several more in a pile of twisted steel and concrete.
Rescue workers, aided by a 100-foot derrick, feverishly pulled at the pile of wreckage which included several cars that had been parked on the roof of the three-story building.
Fire Chief Don Heckman, who was in charge of the rescue operation, said, "I know of three dead still in there now."
He said three other persons were trapped but visible and "there are four more we can't account for."
Another victim was pronounced dead on arrival at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Twelve survivors were pulled from the rubble and nine of those were taken to the hospital where one was listed in critical condition and another -- Deputy Regional FDEA Director DAVID COSTA -- was listed as serious.
"We're doing the rescue work the risky way by sending firemen down into the wreckage before we can lift it out," Heckman said. "We are putting IV (intravenous injection needles) into any hand or arm or leg on anyone I can wriggle a fireman down to."
The 60-by-150 foot section of the concrete and steel building collapsed at mid-morning. Officials theorized that the dozens of cars on the roof were too heavy for the six-inch-thick slab of concrete supporting them.
"It came down with a deafening roar," said DENNIS FITZGERALD, an agent with the anti-drug agency.
"I saw the building coming down -- the first thing I thought was that they were demolishing it," said Steven Epstein, who was walking nearby.
"Then I saw a guy trying to climb out of a car and realized the building had collapsed," he said.
RAYMOND PEREZ, another administration official, said one of the secretaries escaped "by a miracle" when a car crashed through the roof onto her desk.
"I was sitting at my desk and the car fell down by my back and neck," the woman told nurses at the hospital. She was listed in good condition.
Ted Swift, a spokesman for the agency's Miami office, said normally there are 125 to 150 people who work in the building. He said the corner that collapsed was the location of a processing room and a laboratory.
"The people who were in the building throught there was an explosion or an earthquake," said John Moseley, director of the Miami FDEA office.
Although standing three stories high, the 60-by-150 foot building actually contained only two floors.
Ronald Nayer, acting director of the Miami Building Department, said the structure was built in 1925 and underwent a full engineering inspection in 1968, at which time it was approved to house the drug administration.
Billings Gazette Montana 1974-08-06
Listing of Casualties:
NICKOLAS FRAGOS, 29.
MARY M. KEEHAN, 27.
CHARLES H. MANN, 31.
ANNA Y. MOUNGER, 24.
ANNA J. POPE, 54.
MARTHA D. SKEELS, 50.
MARY P. SULLIVAN, 56.