Wall Comes Down But Questions Remain

As workers dismantled the lone wall left standing following the collapse of a parking garage at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., questions remain about the cause of the tragedy that left four dead and many injured.

The five top floors of the 10-story parking garage collapsed Oct. 30, killing four construction workers and injuring 21 others. Two workers remain in critical condition.

Workers had been pouring concrete on the 10th floor of the parking garage when they heard a rumbling and felt the floor begin to shake. They had little time to run to safety as the top floor of the parking structure collapsed onto the ninth floor, causing that floor to crash down, creating a domino effect.

Members of the local Laborers Union questioned whether work on the parking garage was being rushed, perhaps not allowing enough time for the concrete to cure properly. Aztar Corp., owner of the Tropicana, denied the work was being rushed.

"We will find out what went wrong, and it will get fixed, and we will get this expansion open. It is just at this point we don't know what went wrong," said Aztar Chairman and CEO Paul Rubeli.

OSHA is investigating the accident, and has begun interviewing witnesses and representatives from general contractor Keating Building Corp. and concrete contractor Fabi Construction.

The project is no stranger to OSHA; the agency fined Keating Building Corp. $1,125 and Fabi Construction $8,375 for a collapse on Oct. 24, 2002. Three workers fell when an elevated walkway collapsed. Keating paid the fine, while Fabi Construction is contesting the citations.

Gary Roskoski, OSHA area director, said all parties are being cooperative during the investigation. "We will collect as much data as we can. We want to review every piece of information we can get hold of and then make a determination where we go with that information."

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