This Year--River Street Parking Lot Collapse - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/18/02

This Year--River Street Parking Lot Collapse

Much of the lot was in the water. Much of the lot was in the water.
The view from the other side of the river. The view from the other side of the river.
Cleanup crews hoist a car. Cleanup crews hoist a car.

Memorial Day 2002 was a peaceful holiday along River Street until near-tragedy struck. Part of a parking lot caved in, taking cars and people with it.

Fred Walters was in town from San Diego and said, "It sounded like an earthquake, things were shaking and I thought it was an earthquake."

"I got so many calls telling me my car was in the river," recalled Rachel Reed.

Quick thinking bystanders like Quinton Sims of Atlanta managed to pull a woman and her mother to safety.

"I reached down, and another guy who was fishing helped her out," he told us. "She said her mother was there and someone else got her out."

Once everyone was pulled to safety, and the car was lifted, emergency workers had to assess the parking lot's damage, leaving dozens of people who parked there stranded and angry.

"Someone who represents the city should have been here with an explanation," said tourist Shirley Minor.

Hours later, cleanup crews arrived and what they found under the parking lot's foundation wasn't good.

"Wood timbers, old, old, old wood timbers," was how Tony Eicholz described the scene. "That was what was holding the dock."

But why did the parking lot collapse? Engineers say they just don't know.

"We have been taking photographs of this site for years, since the dock was built," said consulting engineer Hunter Saussy. "Nothing was shown on those."

The entire Riverfront has been inspected now and things are almost back to normal. Engineers say there is no indication that something like this would ever happen again.

Join us as we count down the 11 biggest stories of the year on Saturday, December 28, at 9pm on WOTC-TV.

Reported by: Dawn Baker, dbaker@wtoc.com

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