VIDEO: 3 Missing in Iowa Apartment Building Collapse

Building Collapse
A view of a collapsed apartment building in Davenport, Iowa, U.S., May 28, 2023, this picture obtained from social media. | Image by JohnBlunk/Twitter via REUTERS

Three remain missing after nine people were rescued from a six-story apartment building that partially collapsed in Davenport, Iowa, on Sunday afternoon, four days after repair work had begun on the structure’s exterior.

The back part of the apartment building in the 300 block of Main Street began to separate and fall to the ground on May 28.

The entire structure continues to show signs of instability, with officials talking about demolishing it even though three residents — Branden Colvin Sr., Ryan Hitchcock, and Daniel Prien — have still not been found.

“It’s dangerous, and it’s shifting,” Davenport Mayor Mike Matson told reporters on June 1, according to CNN. “We are working on a timeline [for demolition]. We are reaching out to experts that have particular expertise in taking it down [in] a dignified and respectful way.”

The building housed a total of 84 residential and commercial units.

While a dozen residents immediately exited the building when the incident began, firefighters and K-9 crews rescued a further eight individuals in search operations conducted inside the hazardous structure all Sunday night.

Since then, rescue efforts have yielded several pets and one more resident, Quanishia “Peach” Berry, whose leg had to be amputated to free her from the wreckage.

“It’s definitely something that’s like a miracle that she’s here,” explained Lexus Berry, wife of Peach Berry, who had to give consent for the procedure on Monday, according to AP News. “Due to the circumstances, they had to make a judgment call. And that’s the best thing for her, honestly, because she’s still here.”

The couple had lived on the fourth floor.

Lexus Berry told The Quad-City Times that she had seen some small fissures between the windowsill and the brick the day before the collapse. Yet alarm didn’t truly set in for her until she saw the wall separate above the bathroom doorway, she said.

“The moment that we hit the door, it started to shake and rattle and literally — it all just happened in the blink of a second — the floors caved in, like collapsed,” Lexus Berry recounted to AP News.

Residents and business owners in the building had reportedly raised concerns about the structure’s condition for years before the collapse.

Jennifer Smith, a co-owner of a business called 4th Street Nutrition that had recently moved into the building, said that problems were immediately apparent.

“We didn’t have air, the bathrooms have caved in before, and I have pictures, and in the hallway there has been water leaking into our business,” Smith told The Quad-City Times.

She also claimed that 14 apartments had been condemned at the start of the year.

Indeed, a building resident named Todd Wilson related having received a call four months prior from a city official who said the building was about to be condemned for bricks falling from its exterior wall.

“What they did was they switched ownership and they gave them time to fix it, but they didn’t do it properly,” Wilson told The Quad-City Times.

A review of city documents by CNN found that a gas and electric company had filed a complaint with the city on February 2 that the building’s interior wall was unsound. The repair work to the part of the building that would ultimately collapse apparently took months and was finished on May 1.

Yet inspectors and a structural engineer visited the building on May 23 and noted that the brick facade was “ready to fall imminently,” a letter dated May 24 stated. The engineer also recommended adding a steel column to support the structure while facade work was being done.

On June 1, city officials reported that Trishna Pradhan, the city’s chief building official, had visited the building on May 25 and mistakenly entered that it had “passed” inspection in the system, according to AP News.

Pradhan has since resigned.

Andrew Wold, the owner of the building, is now facing a $300 fine plus court and demolition costs for failing to ensure the safety of the structure, according to AP News.

Assistant City Attorney Brian Heyer told reporters that this is the only civil infraction filed against Wold related to the building’s deterioration despite the long record of complaints, according to AP News.

The public is outraged over the city’s response to the issues surrounding the century-old building before its collapse and a lack of transparency afterward.

Preston McDowell, a cousin of missing resident Colvin, told CNN, “They’re not giving us any answers. I just don’t get it.”

A man was recently arrested for allegedly trying to enter the scene.

A view of a collapsed apartment building in Davenport, Iowa, U.S., May 28, 2023, this picture obtained from social media. Twitter @JohnBlunk/via REUTERS.

Footage taken by a bystander shows him handcuffed, pleading with officers that he was “trying to save a life.”

Addressing critics on June 1, Mayor Matson promised a thorough investigation of the collapse.

“Do I have regrets about this tragedy and about people potentially losing their lives? Hell yeah. Do I think about this every moment? Hell yeah.” Mayor Matson said, according to AP News.

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