JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — One week after portions of the Ascension St. Vincent's parking garage pancaked in a partial collapse, the work of retrieving more than 100 trapped vehicles has begun.
According to hospital officials Tuesday, "We are beginning the process of retrieving certain vehicles from the ground floor of the garage while maintaining limited access to the site. Access to the parking garage remains restricted by the City."
Officials did not offer a timeline.
The garage collapsed 12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12 for unknown reasons. No one was hurt in the collapse, but 111 vehicles were inside at the time, and have remained inaccessible to their owners.
Shortly after the collapse, the city condemned the garage along with two adjacent medical buildings until a structural engineer could inspect and ensure there is no risk of an additional collapse.
Vehicle owners may be able to get reimbursed for money spent on rental cars or temporary transportation under the state’s Loss of Use law. Attorney Khalil Farah suggests taking pictures of any vehicle damage to help with possible future insurance claims.
“They have to reimburse you the price to rent a similar vehicle to the one you had. If you had a full size truck, how much it is to rent a full size truck, multiply that by the number of days that you are out that vehicle, that's what you're entitled to, for compensation," Khalil Farah, a personal injury attorney at Farah & Farah, said.
The cause of the collapse remains under investigation. As First Coast News previously reported, the general contractor of the parking garage was involved in prior garage collapse three years ago.
According to Jacksonville Building and Inspection Division records, Baston-Cook Construction pulled the construction permit the King Street parking garage.
Company spokesperson Jason Wasulko told First Coast News the company is aware of the collapse and is working with St. Vincent's to investigate the cause. He said he couldn't comment further because the investigation into the collapse is ongoing.
Baston-Cook Construction was the lead contractor in another parking garage collapse in Atlanta, Ga.
On Sept. 11, 2020, a portion of a parking deck that was under construction partially collapsed, injuring six workers, according to the Associated Press. Four workers had to be taken to the hospital. The following day, there was a second partial collapse that injured one person.
The garage was part of a massive 3,000-space parking garage expansion for an Emory University hospital just north of downtown Atlanta. According to the AP report, a column on the 11th level of the garage "gave way," causing debris to fall onto the level below.
At the time of that collapse, Wasulko said the cause was unclear and that engineers were inspecting the structural integrity of the entire parking deck. The company had updated permits at the time of the collapse, according to Atlanta city inspectors.
First Coast News asked Wasulko if he was aware of any other parking garage collapses, but despite speaking to reporters at the time of the Atlanta incident, he said he could not comment.
According to records obtained by First Coast News, the permit for the construction of the three-story parking garage on King Street was issued in August 2005.
Baston-Cook Construction is owned by Kajima Corp, located in Japan.