A man pulled from the rubble of a collapsed parking garage on the Miami Dade College Doral campus early Thursday morning has died, according to Miami-Dade Police.
53-year-old Samuel Perez's legs were amputated in a dramatic effort to save his life after he was pinned from the waist down in the cab of a truck crushed by falling concrete and steel. MDFR's tactical response team and a trauma surgeon were on scene working to save his life for more than 12 hours, threading an IV through the rubble and working to free him without risking his legs.
The decision to amputate was made just after midnight, according to the The Miami Herald, who report Perez died around 4 a.m. after being airlifted to hospital in critical condition.
"It was an emotional experience for the entire team," firefighter Michelle Fayed told NBC6. "The team spent 13 hours in the effort to rescue this individual. It's emotional for everyone who is involved in it. Though you accept the fact that death is a possibility, you always have hope as a rescuer."
The garage, designed with 4 stories of parking above classroom and office space, collapsed pancake style just months from completion around 11:40 a.m. Wednesday. No students were in the area, school officials confirmed, but the structure was filled with construction employees and other subcontractors.
The death toll now stands at 3 confirmed and one presumed death. Carlos Hurtado De Mendoza, 48, and Jose Calderon, 60, were previously pulled out of garage earlier Wednesday.
Authorities believe the body of the last worker unaccounted for has been located in the rubble, Miami Dade Fire Rescue told HuffPost Wednesday, though rescuers are still working to reach the area. K-9 units alerted to the spot, where blood was found, and officials remain sure the missing worker's body is underneath concrete there.
"It's saddening because at the end of the day you know we are recovering a deceased person, not a live person," Miami-Dade Police Lt. Rosanna Cordero-Stutz told the Associated Press. "But we have to give closure to these families."
Nine workers were transported to area hospitals, and two were treated at the collapse site.
Contractor Ajax Building Corporation has completed projects on many Florida university campuses including Florida State, Florida, New College, Florida A&M, and South Florida. President Bill Byrne said Thursday morning the company is committed to determining the cause of the collapse.
There was "no warning whatsoever," Byrne told reporters, adding in response to a question that "we have absolutely no idea what caused it...every construction project is fast-paced."
Witness Victoria Buczynski was working across the street when the structure gave way.
"It fell to the ground like a house of cards," she told the Associated Press. "The construction workers started running out, screaming. It was loud. Our entire building shook."
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue told HuffPost rescue efforts turned to recovery after Perez was pulled out of the wreckage, but firefighters remain at the scene to assist with debris removal and ensure the safety of workers.
"We're not seeing chances of a secondary collapse, but theres a lot of unstable steel and concrete and you don't want people searching out there when it's not safe," said an MDFR spokesperson.This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. View footage of the garage as crews continue their recovery mission on Thursday:
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