3 people injured following floor collapsing at federal courthouse

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 4:26 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2023 at 10:26 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Three people were injured following the third floor collapsing onto the second floor at the federal courthouse Tuesday.

Emergency crews rushed over in droves with Chatham EMS, Savannah Fire, and the Savannah Police Department all assisting.

Savannah Fire says that they first got to the federal courthouse building around 3:45 in the afternoon.

About 25 members of the Technical Rescue Squad arrived to find parts of the third floor collapsed into the second floor.

“The way it was able to collapse, didn’t cause us to have to do any extensive work to get to the people. It was an easy self-extraction. Because they were injured, it was basically just carrying them out the door,” said Savannah Fire Battalion Chief Wayne Ifill.

Three people were injured - though Ifill says, not critically. They all received medical treatment and are expected to recover.

The incident comes just a little over two months after businesses on State Street had to temporarily shut down due to safety concerns from the courthouse construction project.

The situation is raising flags for the City of Savannah though they don’t have any jurisdiction over the federal project.

“They don’t receive permits from the City to do their work. Obviously, it’s a significant project. Obviously, it’s a big building. It’s an older building, and its had its challenges. So we’re just concerned about the safety of the individuals not only around it but also working in it,” said Savannah Mayor Van Johnson.

Representatives from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration did arrive on scene after the floor collapse.

Records from OSHA’s website show that the contractor of the federal courthouse project, Brasfield and Gorrie, have two violations in the last five years on other projects. One of those violations involved a person being seriously injured after falling 55 feet.

Both violations resulted in a fine.

The General Services Administration is the federal group overseeing the construction project. They released a statement to WTOC that says in part,

“Our priority is the safety and well-being of individuals who were on site, all of whom were accounted for. The building was evacuated and work has been put on hold while the incident is investigated. GSA is working closely with the general contractor and local officials to prioritize the health and safety of those in and around the courthouse.”

Representative Buddy Carter confirmed to WTOC that his office has been in contact with the GSA and safety moving forward will be the top priority.

“They are keeping us abreast of everything that’s going on. Obviously, it is an old building and it has its challenges. First and foremost, we want to make sure that it’s safe. Whatever it means that we have to do, we’re going to do it in order to make sure it’s safe.”

Representative Carter released a statement on Twitter.

There’s no word yet on what may have caused the collapse.

Construction work was put on hold after it happened and Tuesday evening. A structural engineer from South Carolina came to town to look at the building.

Work won’t resume until it’s fully inspected. There’s no word on yet on when that will be.

The contractor, Brasfield & Gorrie, released the following statement:

“Evaluations remain underway following an incident on April 11 in which part of the flooring system failed at the 125-year-old Tomochichi Federal Building and United States Courthouse in Savannah, Georgia. Brasfield & Gorrie is coordinating closely with officials from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, General Services Administration, the City of Savannah, and third-party structural engineers who are investigating the incident, assessing the existing building, and prioritizing the safety of those in and around the courthouse. We are thankful that two of three construction team members who were taken to the hospital for injuries have been released, and our thoughts and prayers remain with those who are injured and their families. The building remains evacuated and work remains on hold while the investigation continues.”