CLEARWATER — A man who
worked as a maintenance engineer for a company that owned
the Clearwater parking garage that collapsed on Monday says
he tried to warn the building owners there were major safety
issues with the building.
“The first month on
the job I was walking to the parking garage taking notes of
things that need to be repaired and things that may have
been a hazard to people, that was one of my jobs,” Michael
Brookhart said. “I noticed right away we had a problem with
that parking garage – just chunks of concrete everywhere to
clean up looking up at all the rusted brackets and I brought
it up immediately to the management attention.”
On Monday, as two construction workers were doing some work
in a stairwell at the parking garage, two floors collapsed.
Clearwater Fire Rescue says a 23-year-old worker was crushed
when the stairwell collapsed.
His body was recovered Wednesday morning.
Brookhart says major
structural cracks have been visible in the parking garage
“Chunks of concrete that were falling from the ceiling
anywhere from the size of a tennis ball all the way as big
as a football,” Brookhart said.
He says he tried to warn about the safety of the structure
again after the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida.
“When I saw that on the news in regards to the condo
collapse in South Florida, that really concerned me. The
first thing that came to my mind was that parking garage
immediately,” he said.
The current owner of the parking garage says they were not
aware of any safety concerns. Zev Freidus with Plymouth
Plaza LLC sent the following prepared statement to 8 On Your
“We will thoroughly investigate the situation and events
leading to this accident. For now, all we can say is that
the former maintenance engineer you refer to worked only for
the prior owner from whom we purchased the building and
never for us during the time we have been owners. We did not
receive any communications or expressions of concern
whatsoever from him since our acquisition or for that
matter, during our pre-purchase investigations.
Respectfully, we will refrain from making further comments
until we have a greater understanding of what happened.”
The Clearwater Police Department is now looking into the
incident as a possible criminal investigation.