Final victim's body recovered from New Orleans Hard Rock Hotel collapse after 10 months
NEW ORLEANS- The last body trapped underneath the Hard Rock Hotel debris in downtown New Orleans has finally been recovered after 10 months.
Jose Ponce Areola's body was removed from the rubble overlooking Canal Street on Monday, Aug. 17.
The building under construction collapsed 10 months ago, killing three people and injuring dozens of others.
At the beginning of August, the body of Quinnyon Wimberly was recovered from the Rampart Street side of the collapse.
The third worker killed in the October 12 collapse, Anthony Magrette, was removed months ago.
Recovery of the final two bodies was pushed back several times, leading to frustration from family members and the city.
The Hard Rock's owners, representatives for 1031 Canal, have blamed delays on issues with insurance, finding a contractor for demolition work, then rain and finally connectivity issues with some of the robotic equipment.
Several of the city's government officials have taken 1031 Canal to court for recovery and demolition.
New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell said recovering Areola's body would be significantly more complex because of where his body was located inside of the building.
The plan is to demolish the building as quickly as possible now that all bodies have been recovered.
Work to remove the rest of the Hard Rock comes close to the peak of hurricane season.
The reason for the initial falling concrete crumbling is still under investigation.
Investigators have uncovered evidence of improper structural work, negligent city inspectors, and other factors that could have led to the deadly incident.
OSHA reports are sealed and going through litigation, but earlier in the year, OSHA inspectors said the design and engineering of upper floors were not completed properly.
They reported beams on the 16th floor were not strong enough and columns on both the 17th and 18th floor were too far apart and carried too much weight.