SEA ISLE CITY – A 43-year-old Philadelphia construction worker was killed Feb. 24 when an eighth-floor balcony collapsed, pinning the man underneath, Sea Isle City Police Chief Anthony J. Garreffi Jr. said in a press release issued Feb. 25.
Jose Pereira was working for Ferguson Contracting Inc., of Yardley, Pennsylvania, when the balcony collapsed around 2:20 p.m.
The Sea Isle City Police Department received a 911 call reporting a balcony collapse at the Spinnaker Condominium Complex, located at 3500–3700 Boardwalk.
Officers dispatched to the scene located the collapse on the north side of the Spinnaker’s South Tower. The eighth-floor balcony collapsed onto the seventh-floor balcony at Unit 712, with one victim pinned under an approximately 30-foot-long concrete slab. Pereira had been working on the building’s exterior.
Sea Isle City police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) attempted to reach the victim but were cautious after observing significant cracks in the area around the collapse and the sloping balcony. Responders determined the side of the building was unsafe and made requests for additional rescue personnel and equipment. All residents were evacuated from the building.
Agencies responding to the call for assistance included the Cape May County and Camden County Regional Urban Search and Rescue Teams (R.U.S.T.) along with Strathmere, Ocean City, Marmora, Stone Harbor and Wildwood fire departments.
Due to the victim’s location, responders developed a recovery plan that involved breaching the outside wall of the building near the victim. After stabilizing the seventh-floor balcony from underneath, rescuers cut through approximately 12 inches of reinforced concrete, creating an opening in the wall.
Rescue workers used heavy lift airbags to raise the concrete slab, and recovered Pereira, who was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:52 p.m. by a Cape May County forensic nurse. Pereira’s body was transported to the Cape May County Medical Examiner’s Office.
The incident is currently under investigation by Sea Isle police detectives, with assistance from the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Cape May County Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Weapons Coordinator, Cape May County Communications and the Cape May County Emergency Medical Coordinator also assisted with the operation.
All of the decks on the exterior of the Spinnaker’s South Tower are currently being stabilized. Once the building is considered safe, further evaluations of both Spinnaker buildings will be conducted by private engineers.
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