Body Trapped for 10 Months in Collapsed Hotel Is Recovered

The remains of Quinnyon Wimberly, 36, were lowered from the complex
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 9, 2020 7:15 AM CDT
10 Months After NOLA Hotel Collapsed, Body Is Removed
This Oct. 12, 2019, file aerial photo shows the Hard Rock Hotel, which was under construction, after a fatal partial collapse in New Orleans.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Crews on Saturday recovered the body of one of two construction workers trapped nearly 10 months ago in the collapse of a Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans. Family watched as the remains of Quinnyon Wimberly, 36, were lowered from the complex using a platform and a crane, the Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate reported. Sobbing relatives huddled at the site for 15 minutes, as Mayor LaToya Cantrell and New Orleans Fire Department Chief Tim McConnell stood by. There was no immediate word on when crews would extricate the remains of the other worker, Jose Ponce Areola, 63. Crews have yet to reach the area on the 8th floor of the structure where they expect to find his body, authorities said. The remains of Anthony Magrette, 49, the third worker killed, were removed the day after the partial building collapse last Oct. 12.

His twin sister, Angela Magrette, stood with Wimberly's family on Saturday as Wimberly's remains were lowered from the structure around 10:45am. "This family we’ve actually made our family. I have to be here for them,” she said. “It’s torture. You live this October 12th every day, knowing people still aren’t being held accountable." Plans to remove the bodies have been hit with several delays, reports the AP. Representatives for 1031 Canal Development, the project's owner, said problems have included finding insurance and a contractor for demolition work at the site, as well as inclement weather. Once the last body is removed, authorities said, they plan to demolish the building quickly since the city is in the middle of a new hurricane season. Officials have said they hope to have the structure down by October, a year after the initial collapse. The cause of the collapse remains under investigation.

(More New Orleans stories.)

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