Worker crushed by 30-ton concrete slab

A construction worker was killed Nov. 29 when a 30-ton slab of concrete collapsed in a parking garage under construction in Bethesda, Md.

Ronal Alvarado Gochez, 25, of Falls Church, Md., was crushed when a 15-foot-by-40-foot slab of reinforced concrete broke loose while he was working on a ladder underneath. The collapse took place around 9 a.m. Because the concrete slab was so large, rescue workers were not able to retrieve Gochez’s body until about 8:30 p.m.

Thirty minutes after the body was recovered, several more giant slabs of concrete collapsed on four levels of the parking garage. No one was hurt in the second accident. The extent of the damage from the second collapse prompted local officials to evacuate part of a nearby National Institutes of Health building.

The $14 million garage is part of an expansion project at the National Institutes of Health campus. The brick-and-concrete structure will have 963 parking spaces once completed. Construction crews have been working on the garage since December 2003, and were supposed to complete the project by March of next year. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating the accident.