An investigation into the collapse of a 13-story building in Miami intensified after the sole individual injured in the collapse died from his injuries. The building, a condominium called the Marlborough House, which was being demolished to make way for a new 19-story tower, collapsed on July 23, 2018. Samuel Landis, who was working on the project at the time, died on August 3, 2018, in hospital.
Officials have not released details on what went wrong, and an investigation is underway to discover the factors that caused the deadly collapse. Quick action from an off-duty police officer believed to have been employed by the construction company is thought to have prevented an even more disastrous outcome.
Florida was also in headlines earlier this year when a pedestrian bridge under construction at the Florida International University campus collapsed, killing six people. That collapse is still under investigation and is expected to remain that way for another year or more.
13-Story Building Collapse Captured in Dramatic Video
The Marlborough House, built in 1963, was located at 5775 Collins Avenue. It had been a condominium building before Brazilian developer Jose Isaac Peres and his development company, Multiplan Real Estate Asset Management, purchased it.
They hired Winmar Construction, Inc. to serve as a contractor for the project, and Winmar hired Allied Bean Demolition as a subcontractor to handle the building’s demolition.
Peres applied for a permit to take down the building through implosion, but officials denied it because Miami Beach does not allow demolition implosions. Instead, a regular demolition permit was issued on April 18, 2018. That demolition was underway when the building collapsed on July 23, 2018, at approximately 10:00 a.m.
It’s unclear how much of the structure the crew expected to come down on the day in question, but numerous people filmed the moments leading up to the Marlborough House building collapse. Footage shows the building looking otherwise normal before it crumples to the ground and thick clouds of dust billow out into the crowds and chunks of debris fly through the air.
A police report filed by Miami Beach Police said that the building at 5775 Collins Avenue “collapsed in an unsafe manner causing debris and thick smoke to cover Collins Avenue.” A 46-year-old construction worker was injured in the collapse and transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident alongside the Miami Beach Police.
Witness Said He Had Concerns Before Miami Building Collapse
Among the collapse witnesses was Albert Cabada, owner of GC Construction, a restoration company. Cabada happened to be working next door at the time of the accident and said in an interview with CNN that, from his knowledge, the 13-story building was going to be demolished in sections over the week, and that there were no plans for it to collapse fully that day.
“As far as I could tell they were scrambling before the collapse to close the streets,” Cabada said in the interview. “It was poorly planned, in my opinion.”
Cabada believed it was so poorly planned that he contacted the 5775 Collins Avenue site management to express his concern. A big part of what motivated that decision, Cabada said, was him witnessing the demolition workers at the site taking out dangerously large sections of structural load-bearing walls at the front of the condominium building.
Mayor Said Something Went Wrong in Marlborough House Building Collapse; Demolition Company Declines to Comment
Officials have released very little information as to what circumstances led to the structural collapse, but the Miami Beach Mayor, Dan Gelber, said in a news conference that “something went terribly wrong” during the demolition.
Winmar Construction Inc. released a short statement on the building collapse saying that one of the subcontractor’s project managers was injured and hospitalized and that their thoughts and prayers were with the individual. Winmar directed any further questions to Allied Bean Demolition.
Allied Bean Demolition promotes itself as a company that safely demolishes large and small structures completely. The website also says that safety is the number one priority. They have, however, refused to comment on the Marlborough House building collapse.
Construction Worker Struck by Giant Piece of Debris as Building Fell
Forty-six-year-old Samuel Landis was, miraculously, the only person injured in the dramatic collapse. A witness said that they saw a boulder the size of “the front end of a car” flying through the air, hitting Landis squarely in the chest and throwing him five feet.
Police reports indicate that Landis’ leg was severed. He was taken to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital where doctors listed him in critical condition.
Though on-scene personnel reported all construction workers were accounted for after the Marlborough House building collapse, first responders still sent search and rescue dogs and cadaver dogs into the rubble.
Landis Died Nearly Two Weeks Later from Injuries
Landis died from his injuries on August 3, 2018, 11 days after the collapse. Officials have not specified the official cause of Landis’ death.
Landis’ obituary says he lived in Lighthouse Point, Florida and that he worked in the construction industry as well as owning a trucking firm and demolition company at times. He leaves behind a daughter.