UPDATE: Oct. 8, 2020: The bodies of three workers killed in the Oct. 5 collapse at the site of the new Marathon Oil headquarters in Houston were recovered on Wednesday, according to the Houston Fire Department (HFD). Identification of those killed has not yet been released.
It took two days for crews, including those from local contractor Cherry Demolition, to remove enough concrete for first responders to reach and safely recover the bodies. The HFD confirmed that the collapse was limited to one interior stairwell, that the rest of the building is structurally sound and that the department has turned the property over to Marathon and general contractor Harvey Builders.
- Three workers were killed and another injured after a partial collapse at the future 15-story Houston headquarters of Marathon Oil, which confirmed the accident to Construction Dive Monday night.
- "We are saddened to learn that an accident occurred at the construction site for the future Houston headquarters of Marathon Oil," said a company spokesperson. "We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those contractors who were affected and thank the first responders. We have offered our assistance to the building contractors as they respond to this accident."
- While Marathon did not comment on the nature of the accident, local media reports have characterized the accident as a 13-floor concrete stair collapse. As of Monday night, officials had not removed the three bodies over safety concerns. General contractor Harvey Builders told KPRC 2 News that it is working with developer Hines and subcontractor East Texas Precast to determine the cause.
Houston Fire Department officials told KPRC that the plan for Tuesday is to cut holes in the roof and remove debris with a crane so that crews can reach the bodies. The project reportedly passed a structural inspection on Friday and was due for a second inspection Monday, but the report did not specify if the stairs were the subject of the inspection.
It is almost one year to the day, Oct. 12, that the Hard Rock hotel in New Orleans collapsed, killing three workers. Authorities were able to retrieve the body of one deceased worker almost immediately, but it took several months to recover the remains of the other two because of the precarious state of the structure.
As most certainly will happen with the Marathon project, OSHA sent a team to investigate the accident and to determine the cause of the Hard Rock collapse. The agency found that much of the responsibility could be traced back to Heaslip Engineering, which OSHA said under-designed the floor beams on the 16th floor of the structure for load capacity and committed other design flaws. The agency fined Heaslip $154,214, the largest fine among the 10 other businesses cited in the collapse.
Now that all the bodies have been recovered, an $8.4 million effort to demolish the remaining hotel structure and some surrounding buildings is underway.
Families of the deceased workers and those injured have filed lawsuits against the companies involved, and local authorities have said that the possibility of criminal charge have not been ruled out. The city of New Orleans has also filed a civil suit against those involved in the project in an attempt to recover more than $12 million in accident-related expenses.