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Irving Garage Collapse: What Went Wrong?

A day after a parking garage in Irving partially collapsed, the focus turns to what went wrong.

The garage on O’Connor Ridge Boulevard, near N. O’Connor Road and John W Carpenter Fwy, is owned by Overlook Colinas, LLC.

An owner with the ownership group told NBC 5 its insurance company hired Nelson Forensics, a forensic engineering firm, to investigate the cause of the collapse. Late Wednesday morning, engineers in hard hats and reflective vests could be seen in and around the garage.

“I didn’t see it the day before it happened but normally these things, there are signs,” said geotechnical and structural engineer Tom Witherspoon.

Witherspoon, who is not involved in investigating this collapse, told NBC 5 it did not appear shifting soil is the cause.

“I don’t believe it was soil movement because the columns are not leaning out they’re pretty rigid,” explained Witherspoon.

Witherspoon couldn’t examine the collapse up close. He could see the aftermath from the street and from news helicopter footage over the top deck.

He says he would want to know more about the thickness of the concrete deck and the ratio of reinforcing steel.

“The beams sheared and they collapsed. I don’t know why they collapsed,” said Witherspoon. “I don’t know whether it was cracks in those beams over a period of time that water got into the reinforcing steel and corroded it and it sheared off.”

Dallas County property records show the office building was built in 1984. The garage is attached by a walkway and the Irving Fire Department said the garage was also built in the mid-80’s.

Witherspoon points out building standards were different three decades ago and investigators would likely look back on how the garage was built. He also says maintenance is important.

Neither the state nor city require regular inspections of parking garages.

Witherspoon says it’s up to individual facilities to ensure the buildings are safe.

One of the owners of the building told NBC 5, the structure would have undergone an inspection when the group acquired it in 2016. The group was working to learn exactly what was examined at the garage and whether there was any warning a collapse could happen.

Wednesday, the City of Irving said the building is in the possession of the property owner who is required to add barricade fencing and 24 hour security around the perimeter of the partially collapsed garage. The building is condemned with no timeline on the removal of vehicles that remain inside.

Sherry Rea’s Honda Pilot is still in one piece where she last parked it before the first partial collapse at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“It’s about five or six spaces from the hole,” said Rea pointing out her vehicle on the top deck of the garage.

Rescuers told her the vehicle was too close to the section that collapsed to retrieve it Tuesday. Some vehicle owners were allowed in certain sections of the garage Tuesday until a second portion of the garage collapsed late Tuesday afternoon.

Rea says the SUV is her family’s only vehicle. Her employer who offices inside the building connected to the garage has offered to reimburse employees who need to use a rideshare app to get to work.

She says she’s anxious to get her vehicle back but remains grateful the only casualty of the collapse is convenience.

“I’m just glad nobody was hurt I thank God for that,” said Rea.

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