JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Halfway through the second night of searching thousands of pounds of broken concrete and twisted metal, a dog alerted rescuers to a specific area of rubble. Nearly two hours later, the body of a victim of Thursday's collapse was located.
It took another 12 hours to extricate the body, which was positively identified late Saturday as that of 26-year-old Willie Edwards III.
"We know he's in a very, very, very, very more beautiful place, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want to trade places with none of us right now," said Edwards' mother, Melanie Edwards-Westley.
Edwards, a father of two, was among two-dozen workers pouring concrete on the sixth-floor of the parking garage under construction for Berkman Plaza II condominium tower when about half the structure collapsed.
While nearly all the workers pulled out of the rubble Thursday suffered some injury, none of them were described as life-threatening. All but five were released from hospitals within 24 hours.
Edwards was the only person not accounted for.
All day Friday, rescue crews used special cameras and audio equipment Friday to search for a missing construction worker believed to be trapped under concrete debris from the collapse of the parking garage.
Late Friday, rescuers said had searched roughly half the debris.
Edwards' large, extended family kept a vigil at the scene as urban search and rescue teams from Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa worked in shifts looking for Edwards.
Rescue workers carried out the body early Saturday afternoon, nearly 60 hours after the collapse.
"While my heart is heavy with the Edwards' loss and our thoughts and prayers are with that family today, we can take great comfort in knowing that this community comes together during tragedy," Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton said.
Officials said it might take months to know what caused the collapse.
Officials said Bay Street would remain closed all weekend.
- December 7, 2007: Rescue Effort Continues Into Second Night
- December 6, 2007: Rescuers, Dogs Continue Search For Missing Worker
- December 6, 2007: 18 Hospitalized, 1 Missing After Parking Garage Collapse