Recovery efforts underway in Clearwater after stairwell collapses, leaving worker trapped

Pinellas County

UPDATE: 23-year-old worker feared dead after stairwell collapse in Clearwater parking garage

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s unclear how Tuesday’s weather will impact recovery efforts of a missing construction worker who is believed to be under two floors of concrete and stairs that collapsed on Monday afternoon in a Clearwater parking garage.

An excavator arrived overnight near the garage on Enterprise Road and Countryside Boulevard. The heavy equipment will be used to remove the concrete slabs.

Workers were conducting stairwell repairs around 12:30 p.m. when a portion of the stairwell collapsed, trapping one worker, the City of Clearwater said.

The worker is still missing and presumed dead at this time.

“We’re taking a slow methodical and safe approach,” Clearwater Fire Rescue Division Chief John Klinefelter said. “We’ve spoken with the family, and we’ve explained everything to them—what’s going to be happening step-by-step from this point forward, what’s going to be happening so they know what to expect.”

Firefighters worked with a structural engineer on a plan to carefully recover the victim.

“We’ve got multiple units standing by with a lot of specialized pieces of equipment,” said Klinefelter. “We’ve got building officials, we’ve got a structural engineer who is on his way, the full resources of the Pinellas County technical rescue team.”

On Monday, the City of Clearwater told 8 On Your Side a private contractor had been on scene trying to secure equipment to begin dismantling the stairwell from the top down before any recovery process can begin. The city’s planning and development department said its researching the permits and construction history of the parking garage.

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