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Fatal Houston Building Collapse: Non-Union Subcontractor

Three workers died after a partial collapse of the future home to Marathon Gas

Brian Young's picture
Oct 09, 2020

Three workers have died, and another was injured, after a partial collapse of the future Marathon Oil and Gas Headquarters in Houston. The collapse happened as 240 workers were building the 15-story building.

“I was on the 11th floor," an HVAC worker on the building told KPRC. “They’d just called us. They’d told us to come done and unload some materials. I went down. As soon as I got down and started unloading materials, out of nowhere I heard a loud banging sound, and it sounded like the building was collapsing.”

Local media says that collapse occurred in a 13th floor stairwell, trapping the three workers and injuring a fourth. Fire and rescue took two days to recover the bodies as they feared cutting could cause a secondary collapse. Although all the deceased have been removed from the site, the city is not yet releasing the names of the workers who died.

“Out of nowhere, I hear a loud banging sound,” a worker told the Houston Press. “It sounded like a building was collapsing, which, I checked out, it didn’t happen, but all I saw was the parking building ... we’re very close to the parking building. All you see is a bunch of smoke.”

Sources tell UCOMM that the workers who died, worked for East Texas Precast a non-union sub-contractor.

According to Construction Dive, the building has recently been inspected, passing a structural inspection on Friday. They were also on the site on Monday morning and found no issues that needed to be reported. It is unclear if the stairwell was inspected.

"As far as our structural team was concerned, Harvey Builders was doing everything they were supposed to," said Alana Reed who is a spokesperson for the Houston Public Works Department. Although a collapse just hours after the inspectors left should raise some concerns about what Harvey Builders were doing and what the inspectors were looking at.

General Contractor Harvey Builders said they are working with developer Hines and subcontractor East Texas Precast to determine the cause of the collapse. Harvey Builders appears to be quite a large general contractor in Texas. Their work includes building the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Texas Gulf Coast Training Facility.

As the bodies of the victims were being removed from the rubble of the building, family members stood by praying for a miracle. Marisol Lopez, the mother of one of the workers, wept along with her daughter in law. “I know it’s difficult for them, but it’s so much harder for me to know that he’s there, and I can’t even see him,” Lopez said. “I have the faith in God that maybe my son is alive in a little corner.” Her son was just 29 years old and left a wife along with three children. “They are waiting and asking for him. They think he’s working,” Lopez said.

Miguel Ramirez also was waiting and praying that his friend would make it out alive. “I’m looking for answers because my best friend got trapped there and we don’t know if he really is alive or dead or if he needs helps. I don’t know because they don’t tell us anything,” he said. “His three kids are waiting for him at home and they don’t know anything. They’re asking for him.”

Unfortunately, it does not seem that any of the three workers who were presumed dead made it.

The collapse, which comes almost one year after the Hard Rock Hotel collapse in New Orleans, is now being investigated by OSHA. It is likely to take months before OSHA completes their investigation.

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