A resident of the Iowa apartment building that partially collapsed last weekend was found dead, officials confirmed on Sunday. A spokesperson for the city of Davenport, where the building is located, identified the person as Branden Colvin in a statement to CBS News.
Two residents of the apartment complex remain unaccounted for, even as search and rescue crews continued to work overnight from Saturday into Sunday, the city said in a separate statement, which noted that they are “focusing on the material pile and removing material from the scene.”
It has been one week since a section of the six-story apartment building in Davenport collapsed on May 28. The disaster injured at least nine people and displaced countless residents and business owners. Colvin is the first confirmed death in connection with the collapse.
As search operations got underway, officials in Davenport said last week that five people were missing in the aftermath of the collapse, with two likely in the wreckage and feared dead. Davenport Police Chief Jeff Bladel revised the number of missing residents to three on Thursday, saying at a news conference that two of the people originally thought to be unaccounted for had been contacted by the city and confirmed to be safe. One of them had moved to Texas and another was found locally, according to the police chief.
At the time, authorities confirmed the names of the three people who had not yet been found. In addition to Colvin, 42, the missing were identified as 51-year-old Ryan Hitchcock and 60-year-old Daniel Prien. Police asked the public last week for any information about the three men and said there was a “high probability” each was at home when part of the building fell.
Recovery efforts have been complex. The building, which was constructed over 100 years ago, “is in imminent danger of collapse,” structural engineer Larry Sandhaas warned several days into the operation, saying that search efforts should be carried out carefully.
The pile of debris left after the collapse was at that point supporting the rest of the structure, he said, making attempts to search through the wreckage especially challenging and precarious. Davenport Mayor Mike Matson told reporters at the time that recovery operations would continue despite the risk to responders, recounting situations where they had already completed rescues under particularly difficult circumstances. In one instance, Matson said a doctor performed trauma surgery on a survivor while still inside the building because the person had been found in an “unbelievably dangerous” spot.
A demolition order at first called for what remained of the apartment building to be taken down last Tuesday in hopes of protecting the surrounding area. But, as people gathered in front of the structure to protest the demolition, one resident, 52-year-old Lisa Brooks, poked her head out of a fourth-floor window on Monday, almost 24 hours after the collapse. Brooks’ family members said she had hidden under her couch when she heard the collapse happening and then fell unconscious, reportedly from an apparent natural gas leak. With her rescue, it was noted that search crews did not find Brooks during multiple prior surveys of the building.
On Tuesday morning, when the demolition was set to begin, Davenport Chief Strategy Officer for Administration Sarah Ott issued a statement saying that taking down the rest of the apartment building would be “a multi-phase process that includes permitting and staging of equipment” beginning that day. Ott said the timing of the physical demolition was still being evaluated.
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