Rescuers were searching for the worker who fell about 140 feet after the roof of a silo collapsed at the Titan America cement plant in Medley Friday morning. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Arnold Piedrahita explained how safety crews on the ground screamed out the man's name from the top of the silo, but did not hear from him. Crews examined the damage from the air and at one point came too close, sending up a cloud of debris.
The worker who fell about 140 feet after the roof of a concrete silo collapsed in Medley is presumed dead, authorities said Friday afternoon.
Pierre Mezidor, 58, of North Miami fell when the top of the 250-foot silo at Titan America's Pennsuco Plant collapsed just before 8:30 a.m.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said they have not had any signs of communication or life from the missing worker at the cement plant at 11000 NW 121st Way.
"After exhausting all search and rescue efforts, the rescue has been switched to a recovery and is currently being investigated by Miami-Dade Police Department’s Homicide Bureau," police said in a statement.
Rain fell at the plant in the late afternoon, further complicating the recovery operation.
The silo was 20 percent full when Mezidor plunged onto dry, packed cement below, with debris raining from above. No one else was hurt in the collapse, firefighters said.
Authorities said an adjacent silo was also unstable after the metal walkway that connects both silos sustained damage. But some rescuers were gathered on top of the two adjacent silos later on Friday.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Arnold Piedrahita said search and rescue crews and rescue dogs were working to reach the worker buried under the rubble.
"It's a very sensitive situation right now, we can't put firefighters on an unsafe structure until we secure that," Piedrahita said. "Before we can send any rescue crews or dogs into that silo, we have to have a stable platform on which to work on."
A fire engine entered the Titan America plant with sirens blaring just before 3 p.m.
Thunder and clouds rolled into the area, which firefighters said would hamper rescue efforts for the fallen worker. After the weather cleared, rescuers were making a second attempt to find the man.
Titan America said a special tall, white crane was ordered and arrived in the early afternoon to deal with the emergency, but thunderstorm activity slowed efforts involving the crane.
Rescuers leaned the crane against the edge of the silo, then lowered rescue workers into the structure in a basket.
“The rescuers actually had to explore the rubble pile from inside the man basket dangling over it," Piedrahita said.
The silo's interior was filled with gray, dusty debris. The edge of what had been the roof was ragged and mangled, helicopter footage showed.
"Officials at Titan America deeply regret the incident and emphasize that employee safety is their primary concern," the company said in a statement late Friday afternoon. "Reasons for the structural collapse are unknown at this point but the company plans to conduct an exhaustive follow-up investigation."
There are seven silos on the site in all.
About 40 to 50 firefighters were on the scene as they tried to get to the worker, officials said.
"This operation is very tedious and methodical, we will be here throughout the day and maybe tomorrow," Piedrahita said.