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Investigation Continues Into What Caused Deadly Parking Garage Collapse

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A parking garage partially collapses in a Bethesda shopping mall.

A parking garage partially collapses in a Bethesda shopping mall.

Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BETHESDA, Md. (WJZ) — The investigation continues into how a piece of slab came crashing down on two construction workers, killing one of them.

The tragic accident happened at the Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda.

Rochelle Ritchie spoke with the rescue team who worked tirelessly to pull one man out alive.

A 57-year-old construction worker died after a concrete slab fell on top of him. His coworker, who survived, remains at Shock Trauma with a severe arm injury.

Sky Eye Chopper 13 over the horrific scene, after a concrete slab comes crashing down on top of two workers.

“You’ll see in the middle of the parking garage here where there is a partial collapse,” said Captain Jeff Long.

One man, 57-year-old Carroll Dexter Wills, died. His coworker, left alive but unable to move.

“The second patient has serious life threatening injuries. He’s being attended to by Montgomery County paramedics and the University of Maryland Go Team,” said Assistant Chief Scott Graham, Montgomery County Fire Department.

Dr. Pollack is part of the Shock Trauma Go Team, a group of physicians sent out to traumatic accidents when a person’s life hangs in the balance.

He says he and his team could see the worker’s arm being crushed underneath 50,000 pounds of unstable concrete.

“The rescuers were concerned the only possible way to extricate him was going to be to cut his arm off,” said Dr. Pollack.

Stunned shoppers looked on in disbelief.

“That’s terrible. It’s like, one second completely changed your life,” a shopper said.

As the rescue went on for several hours, the concrete slab continued to shift, threatening the lives of rescuers and medical teams.

After a nervous four hours, the injured 30-year-old man, with his arm attached, was airlifted to Shock Trauma, where doctors are determining if the limb can be saved.

“He’s also got a lot of dead muscle on the arm and nerve injury as well, so the long term prognosis is certainly unclear. But it’s much better than the amputation that we would have had to do had the rescuers not been successful at getting him out of there quickly,” Dr. Pollack said.

A Baltimore County construction company was contracted out by Westfield Montgomery Mall to renovate the garage. The mall released this statement on the death of one of the workers, saying:

“Thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies go out to the victims and their families.”

Crews lifted the beams just enough to pull the victim out. Dr. Pollack says an amputation may have cost another life.

“Given the complexity of that rescue, it’s amazing how fast they able to accomplish it,” said Dr. Pollack.

Mall officials say construction was being done on the garage to make  for a new movie theater.

The cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

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