Miami-Dade Police said they believe the collapse of a Miami Dade College garage killed Robert Budhoo and buried him in debris. But his wife, Laurel Budhoo, said Friday she believes heâ s still alive. â We need them to get him out,â said his daughter, Tasha Bagwandeen. Ajax Building Corp. President William Byrne said itâ s too early to determine what caused the collapse.
The worker, identified by family members as 53-year-old Robert Budhoo, is believed to have died in the collapse, authorities said.
But the family of Budhoo, a Jamaican-born electrical worker, said they're holding out hope that he'll be found alive. They said he had only been working on the project for a few weeks.
"I believe in miracles," said his niece Brittany Budhoo.
His wife, Laurel Budhoo, said she believes he is alive.
"I believe strongly my husband is still alive there waiting for help," she said. "We know thousands and thousands of people are praying for him."
At a news conference Thursday, construction company officials said they're still working to determine what caused the collapse.
"Even as the recovery efforts continue, we will also focus on finding the cause of this tragic event," said William Byrne, president of the company managing the project, Ajax Building Corp. "As much as all of us want to know what happened, it is simply too early to determine what has caused this event."
Byrne was also asked about reports that a crane had bumped the structure just days beofre the collapse.
"I don't have the full confirmation of that. It's my understanding, an incident where the crane bumped a column, it didn't cause any damage to the column," Byrne said. "The crane was repaired and inspected and was recertified. The engineers, it's my understanding, looked at the column, deemed it, it was perfectly fine."
The search for Budhoo was suspended at sundown Thursday, a day after a portion of the massive, five-story structure collapsed. As Thursday began, rescue workers pulled 53-year-old Samuel Perez out of the rubble nearly 13 hours after the collapse.
Rescue workers had to amputate both of Perez's legs above the knees to free him from the debris, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials said. He was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he later died.
Perez was the third worker killed in the collapse. Police said 48-year-old Carlos Hurtado de Mendoza and 60-year-old Jose Calderon also died at the site. At least seven other workers were brought to the hospital with unidentified injuries, police said.
The workers were all employees of a subcontractor.
No students were in the garage, which was under construction and was about 95 percent complete, Byrne said.
Ground was broken on the $22.5 million project in February, and the 1,855-space garage was to be finished in December. The first floor was to have classroom and office space.
Byrne said a preliminary investigation showed the remaining portions of the parking garage wasn't affected.
A team from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration began its investigation on the scene Thursday. Ajax corporate safety director Marc Reeves said the company is working with OSHA to determine the cause of the incident.
College spokesman Juan Mendieta said the school would be closed for the rest of the week and officials want to make sure everything is safe before the campus reopens. The garage is connected to the campus' main building.
Daytime classes will be shifted to the north campus starting Monday and night classes will take place at Ronald Reagan Senior High School in Doral, which is very close to the west campus and will provide parking for students.
"The College, our community and many families have suffered a terrible tragedy with the collapse of the garage under construction at the West Campus,” said college President Eduardo J. Padron in an email statement. “We send our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the workers who lost their lives, and our wishes for speedy recovery to those who have been injured. We have been reaching out to the families to offer our support.”