Scaffolding collapse off Brickell high-rise injures people, damages parked cars

MIAMI (WSVN) - One day after a scaffolding collapse sent dangerous debris flying straight down into Miami’s Brickell neighborhood during rush hour, streets remain shut down as crews survey the damage.

Thursday morning, the northbound lanes of Brickell Avenue between 14th and 15th streets remained closed, causing traffic congestion in the already bustling urban area.

A portion of Southwest 14th Lane near Brickell Avenue was labeled a danger zone and will remain off limits until it is announced otherwise.

Thursday afternoon, federal investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, arrived to the scene at Southwest 14th Lane to investigate why and how the scaffolding fell from over 20 stories up.

A fence has been placed surrounding this area where the fallen debris has been untouched, in order to allow for the investigation to take place safely.

Many Brickell residents were relived to hear an investigation was taking place.

“With all the crazy weather we got around here too, it’s definitely a cause for concern, so I’m glad they’re looking into it,” said an area resident.

“I think they should investigate what happened so they can avoid it next time,” added another resident.

The investigation may take up to two weeks.

Wednesday, just before 5 p.m., a scaffolding off the side of the Echo Brickell building, located at 1450 Brickell Ave., sent huge chunks of debris crashing down, injuring six people and damaging parked vehicles.

7’s Skyforce HD flew over the scene. A lot of debris could be seen in the area and in the roadway. The scaffolding that collapsed smashed into two cars located below.

Both Miami Fire-Rescue and Miami Police responded to the scene. “There were various injuries, too various to list,” said Miami Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Joseph Zahralban.

Four people were transported to the hospital, including a woman inside a car who was hit by debris. She has been identified by her sister as Aracely. “When she was passing by, something came from the sky,” said Clara Garcia, the victim’s sister. “All she saw was pieces coming into her face.”

She was released from the hospital, Thursday.

The three other victims who were hospitalized were two construction workers, and a man in his 50s who tried to run from the area and had a heart attack. He was transported to Mercy Hospital, where he later died.

Quincy Williams is one of the two construction workers who were hurt. His father received a call from his daughter-in-law that something happened and rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital. “My daughter-in-law has just called me, and she said something happened on the job, and it was concerning, so I just rushed over to see what’s going on with him,” said Thomas Brown. “He’s one of the guys that’s on the ground that’s watching out for what’s going on.”

There is no word yet on the extent of the victim’s injuries.

“I basically know that things fell on his head. He was wearing a helmet,” said Lydian Brown, Williams brother. “After that, they said he got cuts, lacerations on the top of his head.”

That man and the other consturction worker are both home from the hospital, Thursday.

Rudy Tomarchio, who works in the area, spoke with 7News about what he saw. “I work on the seventh floor of the office building across the street from it,” he said. “We were just working at our computers, and all of a sudden heard a very large crash. We looked up, and in front of our eyes, we just see all this debris just crashing down, so the pieces that looked like scaffolding or platform, whatever this is, that struck the car and crashed the roof of it. We pretty much saw that all come down. We saw a couple construction workers in the crosswalk. It looked like they were trying to get out of the falling debris.”

According to Tomarchio, some construction workers tried to lend a helping hand to whoever was in cars in the area. “A couple of the construction workers were actually smart enough to go look at the cars first to make sure if anyone was still stuck inside,” he said, “and they pulled, what I believed was the driver of the sedan out through the passenger side to check on her to make sure she was OK.”

Other witnesses posted pictures and video on social media of the aftermath.

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado arrived on the scene shortly after the incident to take a look for himself. “Most of the injuries are minor. The problem is the debris that keeps falling because of the wind, so we don’t know how long the street is gonna be closed,” he said. “When we have a construction accident, it’s a huge concern.”

The developers of the Echo Brickell sent out a statement that read in part, “We are currently working with city officials, the fire department and police to secure the site and to provide any and all assistance and information as needed. At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with those affected.”

“I live in the area, I have my office in the area. I do a lot of work for the City of Miami, so actually, we’re working here,” said one man who works nearby. “I’m seeing it everyday, crossing by Brickell Center. I always look at it up to the top, and I’m afraid.”

Construction workers could be seen trying to secure a section of construction material that was part of the debris that started to fall. Part of the plywood continued to hang off the building, Wednesday and caused an evacuation of some of the lower floors of an adjacent building.

Pedestrians who were on the south side of the Four Seasons Hotel, which is located near the Echo Brickell, were also evacuated.

Floria Tirado, who lives on Brickell Avenue a couple blocks where the scaffolding fell, was left with nowhere to go. “I cannot go home because everything is closed!” she said.

Drivers also looked for a detour at Broadway and South Miami Avenue. “No way to get around it. A friend of mine, he’s just stuck right here,” said area resident Mohamed Rasheed. “He’s like, ‘I cannot get around the traffic.'”

“Oh, my God, it’s terrible,” said Jessica Rivera, who lives in the area. “I don’t know what time they’re going to get home.”

The building was stabilized enough to take down some of the remaining scaffolding, but the wind made it difficult.

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