NEW ORLEANS — A year after the Hard Rock Hotel construction site collapsed in Downtown New Orleans killing three people, the structure remains standing at the corner of Rampart and Canal streets as crews work to demolish it.
Eyewitness News investigators found evidence of improper structural work, negligent city inspectors and other factors that could have led to the collapse.
Monday, a year after the collapse killed Anthony Floyd Magrette, Jose Ponce Arreola, Quinnyon Wimberly, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said the city remembers them, promising justice and a demolished Hard Rock Hotel.
“One year ago, our lives were irrevocably changed by the collapse at the Hard Rock Hotel site," the mayor said. "Three families began a harrowing journey filled with loss, uncertainty, pain, frustration and — only after too many months — a small measure of closure. Today we remember and say the names of three residents we lost — Anthony Floyd Magrette, Jose Ponce Arreola, Quinnyon Wimberly — and remain committed to safely bringing down the building and holding those responsible to account.”
Jose Ponce Areola's remains weren't recovered until Aug. 17, more than 10 months after the collapse of the construction site that killed him. The remains of Quinnyon Wimberly weren't recovered until Aug. 8.
Anthony Magrette's remains were recovered a few days after the collapse, but New Orleans officials said a collapsed construction site was too dangerous of a risk for first responders at the time to recover Areola and Wimberly.
The city of New Orleans and 1031 Canal Development, the building's owner, have struggled to cooperate in the recovery of the bodies, dealing with lawsuits, insurance requirements, demolition company bids, and bad weather.
Impatient with the months-long ordeal, City Hall took the building's owners to court for a demolition timeline, but the building still stands a year after the collapse, prompting som New Orleanians to wonder if it would've taken as long elsewhere in the country.
First reports from OSHA inspectors said that the design and engineering of upper floors weren't done properly.
They said floor beams on the 16th floor weren't strong enough, and columns on the 17th and 18th floors were too far apart and carried too much weight.
A memorial is planned in memory of the three men who died in the collapse.
As for what's next for the southeast corner of Rampart and Canal streets, Ponce Areola's family said they'd like to see a park put there commemorating the three workers killed in the Hard Rock Collapse.
"No hotels," Areola's brother said.