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1 Dead, 18 Hurt in N.J. Garage Collapse

October 30, 2003

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ A five-story section of a parking garage under construction at the Tropicana Casino and Resort collapsed Thursday, killing one person and injuring at least 18, officials said. Twelve people were missing.

Robert Levy, director of emergency management for the city, said officials were sending search cameras and dogs into the rubble to look for the missing workers.

``We are planning for the worst. It’s one of the worst collapses Altantic City has ever seen,″ Levy said.

Bill Crilley, 42, an insulator, working at a project in another part of the city, said he rushed to the building after hearing the collapse and saw authorities carrying one body away.

``It’s ugly. Horrific. The whole stairwell is crushed,″ he said.

The 2,400 space, 10-story parking garage on Brighton Avenue between Atlantic and Pacific avenues supports on one side an 18-story hotel tower. Both are still under construction. The part of the parking garage at the end of the site opposite the tower collapsed, leaving five layers of concrete and steel sloping downward at a steep angle.

``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 at about 10:40 a.m.

McNeill said he looked down from the tower and saw five men lying on the ground. Only one was moving.

``It’s a real good possibility that we lost a couple of guys today,″ McNeill said.

Sixteen people were at Atlantic City Medical Center; ten of those people were in the trauma unit. Two people were taken to Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point. Another Atlantic County hospital, William B. Kessler Memorial Hospital in Hammonton, has been notified that it likely will get some patients.

Allyn Seel, deputy director of Emergency Management for Atlantic City, said a triage area was set up to0 evaluate injured workers. He said there were hundreds of workers on site and they were ordered away from the accident.

``It’s a tragedy. We’re devastated,″ said Maureen Siman, a casino spokeswoman.

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