Parking lot falls; 3 dead, 1 missing

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J., Oct. 30 — Five stories of a parking garage under construction at the Tropicana Casino and Resort collapsed Thursday morning, sending concrete slabs and metal beams crashing down as workers ran for cover. Three people were killed, and rescuers were trying to reach one remaining trapped construction worker Thursday night.
logo_home.gifTHE VICTIMS were found dead inside the building, said Michael Shurman, deputy director of emergency management for Atlantic County. Nineteen other people were injured, four of them critically.

The missing person was believed to be a construction worker who was still trapped inside the building. A rescue crew was trying to reach him Thursday evening, NBC affiliate WCAU-TV of Philadelphia reported.

The rescue effort was extremely dangerous because the structure was highly unstable. Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford said the damaged garage could collapse completely “at any second.” One wall of the structure appeared to be buckling without the support of the floors that helped hold it up.

Authorities urged well-meaning volunteers to stay away, describing it as a “delicate situation.”

“We are planning for the worst,” said Robert Levy, director of emergency management for the city. Officials from the federal Occupational Safety and Health


The 2,400-space, 10-story parking garage on Brighton Avenue between Atlantic and Pacific avenues supports an 18-story hotel tower on one side. Both were still under construction.

It was the end of the site opposite the tower that collapsed about 10:30 a.m. as workers were pouring cement on the top. Moments later, the top five floors of the garage caved in, trapping about 30 of the hundreds of workers inside.

The Atlantic City Press described a scene of destruction where floors appeared to have fallen atop one another like a concrete accordion. A large section of the city’s midtown area was closed to traffic, it said.

“I heard all those floors go. The whole tower shook, like it was a miniature earthquake,” said Jim McNeill, 56, a caulker who was working on the building when it collapsed. McNeill said he looked down from the tower and saw five men lying on the ground. Only one was moving.

“It’s a tragedy. We’re devastated,” said Maureen Siman, a spokeswoman for the casino. “We just hope the workers are OK.”


Casino patrons said they told casino officials Wednesday night that they were hearing unusual sounds coming from the garage but that their concerns were ignored.

“You could definitely hear a popping and wailing sound,” one of the patrons, Stacy Strasky, told WCAU. “This reminds me of 9/11. I’m just frustrated [that casino personnel] weren’t taking me seriously.”

The parking garage is part of a Tropicana expansion project that has been under way since April 2002. It was scheduled for completion in March.

Named The Quarter, the development was meant to include not only the garage but also a 200,000-square-foot shopping area, all on a three-acre parcel bordered by Atlantic, Pacific, Iowa and Brighton avenues. Tropicana officials have seen the project as a way to diversify the casino’s offerings with more non-gambling forms of entertainment.

Tenants slated for the expansion include a magic shop, a pet clothing store, an IMAX theater, a Latin-themed nightclub, a Brooks Brothers store and eight new restaurants.

NBC Newschannel,’s Alex Johnson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
NBC Newschannel
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