By James Nord, AP
SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota — Rescue workers found the body of a construction worker Friday evening in the rubble of a building that had collapsed hours earlier in South Dakota’s largest city.
Recovery of the body came hours after authorities managed to pull a woman, injured but alive, from the debris of the brick building in downtown Sioux Falls. The woman, 22-year-old Emily Fodness, was rushed to the hospital, and her family said in a statement that she’s in good condition.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras said officials found the body of the man in a void using a search dog. Authorities don’t believe anyone else is in the debris and don’t know what caused the building to collapse.
“After we moved all that rubble, we did find him, and it just didn’t work out for us, unfortunately,” said Sideras, who didn’t identify the man. Rescue workers also pulled the woman’s dog alive from the rubble of the building where she lived.
The temperature was in the low 30s in Sioux Falls on Friday, with temperatures expected to dip into the 20s as the night fell.
Mike Klatt, 39, was getting coffee across the street when he saw bricks coming down from the top of the building. The bottom gave way, and it collapsed into the street, he said. Klatt said people ran out of the coffee shop to see if anyone was trapped, but nobody was visible.
Beckie Hurley, of Sioux Falls, was across the street when she saw a wall of bricks collapsing and then a wave of dust. The 34-year-old who works at a manufacturing company left her belongings in a coffee shop to run outside, thinking there were probably people in the structure.
“For a couple of minutes, it was just a stunned silence,” Hurley said, before first responders arrived.
Sideras said the woman who was rescued had been able to communicate by phone with her mother during the ordeal. He said she couldn’t see daylight so rescue crews knew she was buried deeply in debris.
The building was being turned into a drugstore. The city of Sioux Falls said in a statement that the building was constructed in 1916. Hultgren Construction, the company working on the building, declined to comment to the Argus Leader newspaper.
The city issued a permit authorizing Hultgren Construction to take out interior finishes such as ceiling tiles, furnishings, floor coverings and a bar area, according to the statement.
Sheila Stanley, area director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Sioux Falls area office, told the newspaper that OSHA records show the construction company doesn’t have any prior workplace safety violations.