UPDATED: One Dead, One Rescued in Mall Parking Garage Collapse
From Bethesda Now – By Staff
[gallery ids="8929,8921,8920,8919,8918,8916,8944,8945,8946,8947,8948"] (Updated at 6:00 p.m.) Montgomery County firefighters and police are on the scene of a deadly structure collapse at the Westfield Montgomery Mall. One man, believed to be a construction worker, has died after a massive slab of concrete fell on him on the second level of a parking garage, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson Scott Graham said. Graham said a second construction worker, trapped for four hours with life-threatening injuries, was removed from the wreckage at 5:50 p.m. He is being moved via ambulance to a waiting medvac helicopter, in which he will be flown to Baltimore Shock Trauma. Complicating the four-hour rescue were steel I-beams connected to the concrete that fell and were shifting during the rescue process, Graham said. An engineering team was brought in to help shore the garage during the operation. "It may be a lengthy extrication due to the complexity of the concrete and the way these parking garages are put together," said Graham, as the rescue operation was getting underway. More than 100 personnel were on the scene, he said. Doctors from Baltimore Shock Trauma are on board the helicopter to assist the construction worker, who sustained severe injuries. Graham said the trapped individual was in communication with MCFRS' Urban Search and Rescue Team throughout the extrication. The garage is currently under construction near Macy's and the Westlake Drive entrance to the mall. Graham said the partial collapse happened between the second and third floors of the structure. Westfield Montgomery Mall is undergoing construction for a new food court and luxury movie theater near the site of the incident. More than 20 construction personnel were working at the site at the time of the collapse. As of 3:20 p.m., emergency crews on scene reported that the first floor of the parking garage under the collapsed area had been shored up. Westlake Drive is closed at Democracy Blvd and mall entrances are closed to vehicle traffic as a result of the emergency response, according to the Montgomery County Police Twitter account. Emergency personnel have requested a 5-mile no-fly zone around the mall to keep news helicopters away and Graham said to expect the area to be closed off for a significant period of time. Montgomery County Police will start an investigation into the collapse this evening. Graham said the body of the worker who died has not been moved yet, as officials want to avoid more shifting of concrete.