Condo tragedy reminiscent of Berkman garage collapse in Jacksonville

1 killed, 23 injured in 2007 collapse at Berkman Plaza II

1 killed, 23 injured in 2007 collapse at Berkman Plaza II.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A wing of a beachfront condo building collapsed in a town outside Miami early Thursday, killing at least one person and trapping others in rubble.

The tragedy is reminiscent of a catastrophe that occurred in Jacksonville on Dec. 6, 2007, when the Berkman Plaza II garage collapsed. That garage was under construction and killed one person when it fell. Twenty-three others were injured.

About six months after the collapse, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a lengthy report detailing multiple violations that led to it. “When the concrete on the 6th level was being poured, there were no re-shores below the 3rd level except a few under the perimeter beams,” the report reads. “The contractor violated OSHA’s 1926.701(a) standard.”

The report also mentions cracks that were in the concrete slabs on the third story.

“The threshold inspector failed to notice that top continuous rebars were missing in the ramp slab from the second to the third level,” the report reads. “The threshold inspector and the general contractor failed to resolve the potential adverse impact of the cracks on the load-carrying capacity of the slab.”

LINK: OSHA investigation of parking garage collapse at Berkman Plaza II

A three-member panel of arbitrators ruled that the 2007 collapse of the Berkman Plaza II garage was the “direct result of design errors” for which Berkman is legally responsible.

The panel also ordered Berkman to pay Choate Construction Co., the general contractor, a multimillion-dollar lien for wrongful termination after the downtown garage collapse.

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson was working for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at the time as the agency’s public information officer. He was one of the first officer’s at the scene and helped with the crowd management and dissemination of information to the news media.

“They’re thinking the worst. They’re hoping for the best but thinking the worst. There could be persons underneath all this rubble and we’ve got to find them,” Jefferson said about first responders who were beginning to sift through the rubble.

Multiple lawsuits spawned from the collapse.

Since the collapse, the half-built Berkman II Plaza has not been torn down. It would have housed the apartments that the parking garage would have serviced. Only in recent months has it finally started moving toward demolition.

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.