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Destroying the Evidence at Hard Rock New Orleans

New Orleans Mayor is pushing for the hotel to be destroyed before evidence is gathered and bodies are recovered

Kris LaGrange's picture
Nov 15, 2019

A month after three men lost their lives in the Hard Rock Hotel collapse, the developer and the city have slated the building for destruction.

The building, which collapsed on October 12, is slated to be imploded. Engineers on the project expect it to take about nine weeks to demolish the building and another three months to remove the debris. The implosion will take place with two of the bodies still in the collapsed building. Officials originally stated that they would recover the bodies after two cranes on top of the building were stabilized, but they have failed to do so.

"The building is so unstable that no engineer would sign off on even partial demolition," New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell said. “When it will start has not been determined just yet. We have had the blessing from families of getting what we can but also understanding that once the building is demolished remains will be there but we will move quickly into the recovery of those remains and there are other things family members are requesting things like for example maybe a wallet that was on one of our people.”

While the building will eventually have to be demolished it is concerning that the city and the developer are rushing to get it down. “You have to memorialize the evidence,” said attorney Joseph Bisch. “At the end of the day these standards are there for a purpose and if you have a departure from that it is bad. With a collapse of this magnitude and deaths, this is a big deal. It’s kind of like burning a crime scene.”

The concern is that implosion will destroy vital evidence to the cause of the collapse. Dozens of lawsuits have already been filed and an investigation is being conducted by the New Orleans Police Department and OSHA.

Mike Bradner, the attorney for the dead and injured workers, filed a lawsuit just days after the collapse to stop the destruction of the building until all relevant evidence can be collected. Currently, Bradner has 42 people signed onto his lawsuit. According to a press release from his office, they are looking for evidence that “defendants failed to take reasonable care in planning, assessing, and monitoring the construction of the collapsed structure.” Bradner also claims that the construction company and the developers used concrete that had not adequately cured, and used supports that could not withstand the weight. They go on to allege that even though it was clear the beams were bowing and about to fail, the bosses still forced their workers to continue with the construction of the hotel. UCOMM has reached out to Bradner for comment on whether his lawsuit will stop the delay the implosion, but we have not heard back at the time of publishing.

While demolitions experts have told Cantrell that explosives can do the job, just how much damage will they do? If the building is destroyed before these beams are removed and adequate amounts of concrete are tested, we may never know what caused the collapse. Let OSHA do their job and once they are done and a final determination is reached, only then can the building be brought down. Also, the demolition is not being done by the city, but rather by a contractor who has been hired by the developer. With the shady ties, the Kallis family has, would it be a surprise to find out that important evidence was destroyed and everyone walks free? It sure wouldn't surprise anyone here at UCOMM Blog.

Brian Young contributed to this story.

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