New Report on Miami Dade College Garage Collapse Shows Construction Flaws: Relatives of Victim

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued penalties Wednesday

By Willard Shepard
|  Friday, Apr 12, 2013  |  Updated 12:52 AM EDT
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Family members of a victim of the Miami Dade College garage collapse said Thursday that a just-released report proves their claims that there were serious construction flaws and that inspectors missed the trouble before the garage came down. Jimmy Ramirez and Migdalia Lopez, the relatives of collapse victim Samuel Perez, and their attorney Ervin Gonzalez spoke about the findings from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. General contractor Ajax Building Corp. said it is withholding comment until the period it has to reply to OSHA is over. The inspection company, MEP Structural Engineering and Inspections Inc., and Miami Dade College both said they had no comment.

Family members of a victim of the Miami Dade College garage collapse said Thursday that a just-released report proves their claims that there were serious construction flaws and that inspectors missed the trouble before the garage came down. Jimmy Ramirez and Migdalia Lopez, the relatives of collapse victim Samuel Perez, and their attorney Ervin Gonzalez spoke about the findings from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. General contractor Ajax Building Corp. said it is withholding comment until the period it has to reply to OSHA is over. The inspection company, MEP Structural Engineering and Inspections Inc., and Miami Dade College both said they had no comment.

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Occupational Safety and Health Administration Issues Penalties in Miami Dade College Garage Collapse

Five contracting companies have been penalized more than $38,000 combined for a series of errors and oversights that led to last October's collapse of Miami Dade College's parking garage that killed four workers, federal safety regulators announced Wednesday. A worker who was injured in the collapse spoke about it Wednesday. The project's general contractor, Ajax Building Corp., said it is witholding comment until the investigation is finished. The construction companies have about two weeks to respond to OSHA's findings.

Unsecured Column Led to Garage Collapse: Attorney

The Oct. 10 garage collapse on Miami Dade College's west campus happened because of trouble with a column that wasn't properly supported when it was first installed and because inspectors didn't catch the flaw, attorney Ervin Gonzalez said in court Thursday. Meredith Cooper, an attorney for general contractor Ajax Building Corp., also spoke in court. The lawyers for Ajax and the other companies who were in court Thursday declined to comment on the allegations.
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Family members of a victim of the Miami Dade College garage collapse said Thursday that a just-released report proves their claims that there were serious construction flaws and that inspectors missed the trouble before the garage came down.

“I’m mad. I'm pissed,” said Jimmy Ramirez, whose stepfather Samuel Perez died from the injuries he received in the Oct. 10 collapse on the college’s west campus in Doral.

Perez, 53, was trapped inside the rubble for 13 hours and had his legs amputated in an attempt to save him before his death.

The family said an Occupational Safety and Health Administration report released Wednesday indicates that his death could have been prevented.

“It shouldn't have happened,” Ramirez said. “Something so simple it makes no sense.”

OSHA announced fines totaling more than $38,000 for five contracting companies who worked on the project.

Perez’s widow, Migdalia Lopez, said in Spanish that the construction teams were more concerned about finishing the project quickly than the safety of the workers. She said her husband indicated they were cutting corners at the project.

The family's attorney, Ervin Gonzalez, said two weeks ago that grouting was not placed around the base of a critical support column. He said the OSHA report confirms that.

“So not only did the company that’s supposed to grout it or cement it fail. The company’s that supposed to set the column failed,” Gonzalez said.

Attorney Stuart Grossman said his client, Christian Ramirez, suffered brain damage when the columns in the garage came down on him.

“They got that way because they were not constructed properly,” Grossman said. “They were not erected properly. They were not stuck in the ground properly.”

“The concrete and steel don't lie,” Grossman added. “They didn't get there because of an act of God.”

The general contractor, Ajax Building Corp., and the other companies cited have two weeks to respond to OSHA’s findings. Ajax said it is withholding comment until that period for it to reply is over.

The inspection company, MEP Structural Engineering and Inspections Inc., and Miami Dade College both said they had no comment.

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