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Florida crews continue search for expected 4th casualty in garage collapse

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 9:32 p.m.

MIAMI — Workers inched closer on Thursday to pulling a fourth likely casualty from the site of a parking garage collapse as a search for answers continued over what reduced a routine construction project to piles of twisted steel and crumbled concrete.

Family members of a missing worker huddled near the site, a day after the collapse at Miami Dade College, waiting for a crane to remove large debris and potentially remove a body from an area search dogs had identified. Some still held out hope for a miracle, but authorities said they didn't expect to find anyone else alive.

A police officer who spoke with relatives at the site said that rescuers planned to search until nightfall Thursday, but that it could take days to find someone. When family members asked whether survival was possible, the officer tried to offer encouragement. Afterward, though, several turned their backs to the rubble and sobbed.

“We break down and we console each other,” said Steve Budhoo, who identified his brother as the missing worker. “We are just going through the motions.”

Earlier Thursday, a third worker died of injuries from the collapse. Samuel Perez, 53, had been pulled from the piles of wreckage just hours earlier, after being trapped for about 13 hours. He was found after rescue workers heard his cries. Perez and the two other confirmed fatalities — Jose Calderon and Carlos Hurtado de Mendoza — all died in hospitals after being rescued. They worked for subcontractors of the firm handling the construction of the five-story garage, Ajax Building Corp.

At least eight other workers were injured.

The accident happened, Ajax CEO Bill Byrne said, as crews were putting in a “spandrel beam” on the day of the collapse. The beam, a five-story, pre-cast concrete puzzle piece that was to attach to an elevator shaft, was still hanging from a crane near the wreckage Thursday.

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