CINCINNATI – About 30 hours after the search began, the construction worker buried in a partial building collapse Monday afternoon was found dead Tuesday night.
Text messages between Cincinnati City Manager Patrick Duhaney and city councilmembers, an email to city officials and then a direct statement from Turner Construction confirmed the man was located deceased.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the Hamilton County Coroner’s Office has not yet released the man’s name.
“They found him. Hopefully, the family can start the grieving … ” Duhaney wrote in a text viewed by The Enquirer. The screen capture is cut off midsentence.
“The heart of the City of Cincinnati goes out to the family and friends of the deceased. This is truly a sad day for our city,” Duhaney wrote in another communication to city leaders.
Efforts to recover the man began immediately following the partial collapse of the seventh floor of the Fourth and Race project around 1 p.m. Monday.
The Cincinnati Fire Department along with Urban Search and Rescue crews from the state worked through the night chiseling through concrete and cutting through steel rebar.
Around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the nearly constant sound of jackhammers at the site halted and a group of firefighters was seen climbing the structure.
People walking their dogs stopped to look up. “Did they find him?” one asked.
By 8:20 p.m., the crews that ran up the steps with kits walked back down at a slower pace. They walked back to their truck, many with the heads hung, and left. A stretcher was brought to the site.
Just before 10:30 p.m., an ambulance arrived.
Turner Construction issued a statement confirming the worker was deceased and an employee at Gateway Concrete Forming.
“This is an extremely sorrowful time and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and co-workers,” the statement said.
Turner will continue to offer grief counseling services to its employees as it has since the incident occurred, the company said.
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According to Cincinnati Fire Chief Roy Winston, crews were pouring concrete on the highest level of the construction project while the now-deceased worker monitored for leaks and instability from the floor below.
Winston said 420 cubic yards of concrete had been poured when structure gave way, falling down one level where the worker was standing. An area of 200 feet by 40 feet had collapsed.
Fellow construction workers rushed to try to reach the man. They shoveled the wet concrete into buckets in an attempt to reach him, according to a Baker Construction employee.
But the concrete eventually hardened.
Jackhammers echoed through the streets all Monday night and into Tuesday morning and night.
The search was put on pause after daybreak to reinforce the supports in the area of the collapse and to remove debris from the outside of the building in anticipation of high winds.
Cranes lifted heavy equipment up to the site to aid in the search, which then resumed. The search continued until the man was found Tuesday night.
Federal inspectors with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have visited the construction site to determine if the accident warranted an investigation of potential worker safety violations, according to a spokeswoman.
Rob Richardson Jr., a Laborers’ International Union representative from Cincinnati, said in a statement Monday: “This industry, union or non-union, is a dangerous industry. … These workers deserve our respect. They deserve high pay and they deserve safe conditions. This is hard to hear.”
OSHA and Cincinnati Fire Department officials have not said when reports that could reveal the cause of the collapse will be completed
The building is on the site of the former Pogue’s garage. Construction began on the mixed-use development called Fourth and Race in November of last year. It will include a 584-space parking garage and 264-unit apartment tower.
Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation, known as 3CDC, and Flaherty and Collins, a developer out of Indianapolis, are working on the project.
The parking portion of the project was set to open in the first quarter of next year, followed by the retail portion of the project in the summer.
The garage was topped off a month ago, bringing the building up to level seven, where the collapse occurred. The apartments were just beginning to be built. When it’s finished the building is set to be 14 stories.