Workers trapped in parking garage collapse at Montgomery Mall, 1 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Workers trapped in parking garage collapse at Montgomery Mall, 1 killed

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Rescuers have freed a construction worker trapped inside a collapsed garage at Westfield Montgomery Mall after being trapped for nearly four hours beneath a 40-foot section of concrete. A second worker has died.

An ambulance transported the surviving worker to a medical helicopter, which airlifted him to Maryland Shock Trauma in Baltimore.

"His injuries are severe," said Assistant Chief Scott Graham with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

The two men were on the second floor of the garage, which is under construction, when they were buried by the concrete. They were among about 20 construction workers.

Getting to the men was not easy. Rescuers had to work with engineers to stabilize the structure because of the possibility of a secondary collapse.

"During the extrication, we noticed some shifting in the concrete," Graham said.

The men were below 55,000 pounds of concrete and steel. Paramedics reached them, trying to stabilize the victims and tend to their injuries while rescuers developed a plan to free the men. Before they could get them out, one of the workers died.

Doctors from Maryland Shock Trauma later arrived, suited up in protective clothing and hard hats and went in to help the paramedics already inside. They got the second victim out, but his injuries remain life threatening, but there are signs of hope.

"The patient is alert; he is talking," Graham said.

It is too early to say what caused the collapse. Police are on the scene speaking with construction workers. Once the rescue is complete, the investigation will be turned over to police.

The garage has been closed to the public, except for the construction crews.

Bany Alavi had parked next to the garage. She went in to get lunch and when she came out, she heard something terrible.

"I came out, got in my car, and drove down. As I went around, I heard a loud sound,” she said. “I just stopped because it was pretty loud to see what was going on. I didn't realize it was the parking garage that had collapsed."

It was something she had never heard before.

"It was loud. I would say like a really loud bomb, just a really loud bang. I didn't know 'Did a bomb go off?'" she said.

For several hours, rescuers could be seen inside the parking garage. A large perimeter around it has been cleared for safety. A number of ambulances, police and fire trucks were on scene and a medical helicopter was on standby to airlift the victim out.

The body of the worker killed remains inside. It could take hours, given the instability of the structure, before they can remove him.

The identities of the two workers have not been released.

The investigation into what caused the collapse will unfold in the coming days.

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