Recovery of the remains of two workers killed in the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel construction site last October could begin at the end of this week or early next week, New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell said at a press conference Monday afternoon.
McConnell said significant progress was made over the weekend when contractors removed the two sections of a large tower crane that collapsed along with the construction site.
“That allows us to move to the next phase, which is a significant phase, to begin preparing for the actual recovery,” McConnell said of the remains of the two workers still trapped in the rubble.
McConnell said contractors hired by the hotel’s developer will now begin peeling away the collapsed sections hanging from the building’s edges this week, bit by bit. That will clear a path for the city’s recovery team to locate and retrieve the remains of workers Quinnyon Wimberly and Jose Ponce Arreola.
The precise location of Quinnyon Wimberly’s body has not been identified, McConnell said.
It’s difficult to pin down an exact day for the recovery effort because everything depends on how quickly crews can remove debris from upper floods and “how the building reacts,” he added.
“If that building starts to shift or do something that, you know, we can’t control, that will change our timeline.”
Once the remains are recovered, crews will methodically demolish the building, floor by floor, from the top down. McConnell could not say when the building’s demolition would be complete but said he hoped most of the top floors would be removed “before we get too much deeper into storm season.”
An attorney for the hotel’s developer, 1031 Canal Development LLC, told WGNO on Sunday that the demolition was on track to be completed by the end of September or early October.