Nearly year after building collapsed, construction worker bodies removed soon

Published 7:19 am Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The two remaining bodies inside a hotel that was under construction in New Orleans when it partially collapsed last October might be removed by the end of this week or the beginning of next week, the city’s fire chief said Monday.

Three people died in the Oct. 12 building collapse.

The body of one person — Anthony Magrette — was recovered shortly after. But the bodies of the other two — Jose Ponce Arreola and Quinnyon Wimberly — have remained inside as the city and building developer argued about how best to bring the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel down.

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Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell told reporters they have search and rescue dogs to assist in the effort as well as forensic anthropologists to ensure they collect all the remains. They will also be paying close attention to the still unstable building to make sure it’s not shifting while rescuers are suspended from baskets in cranes trying to get the remains out.

“There is monitoring going on by engineers on movement of the building to ensure that that’s not happening,” he said.

After the victims’ bodies are removed, work will continue on demolishing the 18-story structure with the goal of getting the upper floors down before the city is too deep into hurricane season and high winds potentially buffet the building.