CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Clearwater authorities have now identified the worker killed in the partial collapse of a stairwell of a parking garage on Monday.
Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter says the body of 23-year-old Mitchel Thomas Klock was recovered around 6:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Crews using specialized heavy equipment worked through the night to remove tons of concrete to recover Klock.
Chief Slaughter says the man was hardworking, had just been married, and owned his own welding business.
“A good hard working person who was doing a dangerous job and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family,” Slaughter said.
Documents released by the City of Clearwater on Wednesday show a call had been made on July first of this year about safety concerns with the parking garage.
The report shows an inspector visited the structure on July 15 and found problems.
“We prepared an unsafe structure report that was shared with the property management on the 19th of July,” said Slaughter.
An inspector later noted in the report: “I was told that a welding company had begun repairs.. although we have not received the engineer’s report yet and a permit has not been applied for.”
Chief Slaughter says you can’t blame Klock for that.
“Our recommendation or the direction was for an engineer to be involved before the work was started, so that’s certainly something we will be looking into. I certainly want to make it very clear that I don’t think Mr. Mitchel Kiock deserves to be looked at in a negative light because of that, because we are just talking about a hard-working man that was trying to put food on the table, a true American,” said Slaughter.
Shane Griffin described Klok as “an amazing guy.” He told 8 On Your Side his death should never happened.
“People shouldn’t have been parking in that parking garage,” Griffin said over the phone.
Griffin said there needs to be regulation changes after the death of his best friend.
“What if there was 30 people running down the stairs because there was a fire, it wouldn’t have just been one person that passed away,” he said.
Michael Brookhart worked as a maintenance engineer for the parking garage and other buildings before 2016. He says he was the person who called the City of Clearwater in July to report his safety concerns. He says he was motivated to call after seeing news reports of the Condo collapse in South Florida.
“The first thing that came to my mind was, Oh my God, the parking garage,” Brookhart said.
He says he first reported his concerns to the original owners of the garage as early as 2008.
“I’m not a structural engineer, I’m a maintenance engineer but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, when you are walking through a structure like that and you see football-size gaps of exposed rebar and support brackets, we have a problem there,” Brookhart said.
Clearwater police are now investigating the records of the building and any safety concerns that were reported as part of their investigation into Klock’s death.