1 dead in parking garage collapse at Miami Dade College; unknown number trapped

MIAMI HERALD STAFF REPORTERSOctober 10, 2012 

— One person was killed, at least seven people injured and an unknown number of people buried in the rubble of a four-story parking garage that collapsed like pancakes during construction at Miami Dade College’s West Campus in Doral, authorities said.

No students were injured when the concrete structure began to crumble shortly before noon, according to college spokesman Juan Mendieta. He said the victims were workers for the contractor, Ajax Construction, which was overseeing the project.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Spokesman Lt. Arnold Piedrahita Jr. said that a precarious and frantic search was under way to find victims. Authorities are not certain how many more people remained trapped.

Those injured were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where they were treated for trauma and shock. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue had to shore up portions of the structure before it was safe to launch a search utilizing dogs and equipment.

Several other subcontracting companies also had personnel at the site, Mendieta said. The garage, which was scheduled to open in December, would have had the capacity to house 1,500 vehicles.

The garage was being built, he said, to relieve a parking crunch at the campus at 3800 NW 115th Ave., just east of the turnpike.

“It’s a bad day for us, but it’s also a good day because there could have been a lot more tragedy,’’ Doral Police Chief Ricardo Gomez said.

The campus was evacuated as a precaution, and nearby roads are also closed.

“Right now, we’re doing a head count to see how many people are missing,” Gomez said. “The issue is the structural integrity of the garage has been compromised to the point that it’s unsafe to get into the garage.”

Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue has set up a triage area on the site.

Miami Dade College’s West Campus in Doral, which opened in 2007, has about 5,000 students. The campus has been growing at an astounding 40 percent annually, and one of the warehouses on campus was used to park cars. The college has been working on renovating the campus to better accommodate student demand.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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