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Workers Bodies will be Removed from Hard Rock Hotel

Nine months after the collapse, the two remaining bodies will be removed

Brian Young's picture
Jul 13, 2020

For nine months, the bodies of 63-year-old Jose Ponce Arreola and 36-year-old Quinnyon Wimberly have been buried in a temporary grave atop the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans. Whenever a strong wind blows, the bodies become exposed to the elements, allowing the visitors to the city’s famed French Quarter a view of their slowly decaying bodies.

On Monday, July 20th, the developers will finally begin the task of extracting the bodies to allow their families to bury the men. Over the last few weeks, preparation has begun for the extraction. The city and the site developer began removing buildings near the site and removing a crane that was imploded on October 20th, a week after the hotel collapsed. New cranes have also been erected to help with the extraction.

The two men who died were working on the 8th and 10th floors when the building collapsed and have remained there ever since. The building is believed to have collapsed after the shoring supports were removed too quickly, causing the heavy wet cement to bring the building down.

According to city officials, the recovery of the bodies has taken nine months because the building was not stable enough. However, as UCOMM previously reported, John Jepsen a structural shoring, lifting, and stabilization expert who was given access to the site, said in November that the building could have been shored up, allowing the bodies to be removed and the building to be demolished piece by piece. However, the Mayor seemed hell-bent on imploding the building, which would have destroyed Wimberly and Arreola’s bodies. Thankfully that plan ended up not happening due to the possible collateral damage to surrounding buildings.

According to Stephen Dwyer the attorney for 1031 Canal Development LLC, the demolition of the hotel is slated to be done by late September or early October.

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