NEW YORK (WPIX) – The worker who died when a parking garage collapsed in New York City on Tuesday was in his office with some of his colleagues when the floors came crashing down, according to a manager at a nearby garage who knows the victims.
The victim’s co-workers were able to run to safety, but he was unable to make it out, according to Alessy Hernandez, the manager at the City Parking garage in Lower Manhattan.
“They were in the office and tried to get out but they lost contact and [the worker who died] was not seen out,” he said. “I did know him really personally.”
The collapse took place around 4:15 p.m. on Ann Street, between Nassau and Williams streets in the Financial District. Six workers were inside the building at the time of the collapse, according to John Esposito, the FDNY’s chief of operations.
One worker died, four other workers were hospitalized, and one worker declined medical attention, Esposito said. The worker who died was still in the building as of Wednesday morning, officials said. An FDNY source said they hadn’t yet removed deceased man due to concerns about the building’s stability near the body.
Hernandez had left the area about 10 minutes before the deadly incident. He was a little over a mile away when he was sent a video of the scene.
“I was very concerned. I didn’t know it was that bad. I just thought it was the back wall that fell but later saw … the top floors had caved in and caused the pancake effect,” Hernandez said.
Inspectors said the structure, which has four open building violations, could collapse completely at any time. Crews began demolishing the building Wednesday morning, with more than three dozen cars still in the garage. The FDNY source said it could take a week to deconstruct the building.
Adam Cohen captured video of the FDNY’s robot dog at the building. He told News 2’s sister station, WPIX, his family was evacuated from their home and his car is on the roof of the collapsed garage. Cohen said it remains unclear when they’ll be able to return home.
“My wife was screaming, like something went down … she said [first responders] were banging on the door, saying to evacuate the building,” Cohen said Wednesday morning. “I got home to see chaos. There were hundreds of cops and firefighters on the streets. Things shut down for blocks and blocks and blocks.”
Hundreds of Pace University students were temporarily displaced because one of the dorms is next to where the parking garage collapsed. Authorities decided the safest thing to do was completely evacuate the student housing building.
“This bag is all I have. My laptop, clothes, medication, everything I had to leave behind,” one student said.
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“We heard a big boom. And we thought it hit our building. So we went to check the windows, and we immediately saw smoke. Cars were sinking — it looked out of a movie. It was horrible,” another student said.
Staten Island resident Jim Slattery had parked his car on the ground level of the garage less than 15 minutes before it collapsed.
“I heard it’s trashed inside all over the place. I haven’t thought about it. Because I heard someone was a fatality, unfortunately. So when you hear that, yeah — I’m very lucky,” Slattery said.