Survivor of Hard Rock Hotel Speaks Out, As New Orleans Officials Prepare for Controlled Explosions
A survivor of the Hard Rock Hotel collapse is speaking out, as officials in New Orleans prepare to stage controlled explosions aimed at removing two damaged cranes perched dangerously atop the still-unstable building.
Hard Rock Hotel Survivor: “I’m Just Lucky to be Here”
“I could’ve been left there,” the seriously injured construction worker old NBC News from a Louisiana rehabilitation hospital. “And I wouldn’t be telling this story today.”
The man had been working at the Hard Rock Hotel site, located at the corner of North Rampart and Canal streets, for the past seven months and was among 30 construction workers injured when the top floors of the building suddenly gave way shortly after 9:00 a.m. on October 12th.
Three of his comrades died in the collapse, including two men whose remains have yet to be removed from the rubble.
According to NBC News, the survivor is the only Hard Rock Hotel construction worker who remains hospitalized, following surgery for a broken femur. He became trapped during the disaster, and while rescue teams were at first reluctant to dig him out for fear of further collapse, his co-workers were insistent that he not be left behind.
“I’m just lucky to be here, actually,” he said. “Very lucky. Somebody was in my corner. God was in my corner.”
Troubling Video Shot Days Before Hard Rock Hotel Collapse
Like many others in the New Orleans area, the injured construction worker has viewed video taken just days before the collapse that raised concerns about the building’s structural integrity, confirming that it appeared to be from the job site.
“Somebody needs to be held accountable for it,” he told NBC News.
Authorities in New Orleans still don’t know what caused the Hard Rock Hotel to collapse. According to Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell, investigators are trying to authenticate the video.
“We’re well aware of it,” he said. “That will certainly be part of the investigation and our evaluation of what caused it.”
Yesterday, inspectors from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration entered the stricken building for the first time, using police body cameras to survey the damage and look for workplace safety violations that might have contributed to the collapse.
Controlled Explosions Only Option to Remove Damaged Cranes
Nearly a week after the disaster, the Hard Rock Hotel remains dangerously unstable, and the damaged cranes have shown small but dangerous shifts in their position. Authorities are extremely concerned that increased winds from Tropical Storm Nestor churning in the Gulf of Mexico could finally topple the cranes, sending the equipment crashing into historic buildings and vital utility infrastructure on North Rampart and Canal.
The use of controlled explosions is considered the only viable option for bringing the cranes safely to the ground. Engineers had hoped to conduct the explosions tonight, but have delayed the effort until noon on Saturday. In the meantime, crews will continue the treacherous work of placing explosives in the cranes and preparing the site or the demolition.
“We’re in the tough part right now, making it happen, putting people back in danger up in that crane,” McConnell said during a Friday morning news conference. “Our goal is to get this done as quick as possible.”
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