A man suffered life-threatening injuries and two others were also hurt after becoming trapped in a collapse at a former power plant in South Boston Wednesday afternoon.
Emergency crews took part in a technical rescue after a "structural collapse" at the former Edison Power Plant. Police, fire and EMS crews from Boston responded to 776 Summer St. shortly before 2 p.m.
Boston Fire Commissioner Jack Dempsey said two people who were injured were immediately removed.
"We had a third victim was trapped. It was an extensive extrication operation," Dempsey said, explaining that about 100 firefighters took part.
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The worker was pinned under a 30-foot section of catwalk flooring that had collapsed. He was eventually removed and taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, Dempsey said.
The man has not been publicly identified, but his uncle, Jose Estrella, says he was conscious when first responders were working to save his life.
"He's like my son," Estrella said in Spanish. "My parents raised him since he was a young boy."
Estrella also works at the project site, but he had the day off Wednesday. He was called by fellow workers when his nephew was trapped under the debris.
Tom Troy, a retired business manager for Building Wreckers Local 1421, a construction worker union, said he was with all three victims at the South Boston site before they were rushed to the hospital.
"We are all rooting for him," Troy said of Estrella's nephew. "He's tough, he's a wrecker and this is a terrible tragedy, but these things happen in this business and we're going to pull through it like we always do."
Boston EMS Deputy Superintendent Steven McHugh said he believes all of the people rescued will survive.
"It happens from time to time," Troy said. "We go in in all the abandoned buildings and sometimes you just don't know what's going to happen."
"First and foremost, I want to just send all of our love and support and incredible emotion over to the families of those who were impacted today, the colleagues and coworkers of those who had this very sudden, incredibly dangerous situation happen," Mayor Michelle Wu said. "This was a very complex scene, a very dangerous rescue operation, and I am so grateful and so proud of the teams who responded immediately."
Wu went on to say it was a "near miracle" that crews were able to pull the third victim from the wreckage and get him to a hospital.
The building was undergoing demolition at the time. A construction worker on scene told NBC10 Boston and NECN they were working when something fell on his coworkers.
Several of the construction workers waiting for news of their colleagues had tears in their eyes and one had to rest his head against the building as they processed everything that just happened.
Crews were removing asbestos in preparation of the building's demolition when the accident occurred.
A spokesman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said the agency is responding to the scene.
According to the Boston Planning & Development Agency's website, the former Edison Power Plant is scheduled to be redeveloped into a mix of residences, office and research, retail and hotel, along with associated parking. The entire project is expected to take about 20 months to complete.
Joe Cappuccio, who lives two blocks away, said he was coming back from grocery shopping when he saw the fire trucks.
"We knew something was going to happen," he said. "I just don't understand how engineers can approve this for demolition and all of the sudden a floor collapse, just like in downtown Boston. Is anybody taking care of the worker?"
Developers and owners respond
In a statement posted on their website, Suffolk Construction said safety is a key priority and that they will work closely with authorities on the investigation:
“An incident occurred at the 776 Summer Street redevelopment project in South Boston today. A catwalk in the 1898 building collapsed and three workers were injured. There were no fatalities. Our thoughts are with the individuals who were injured, along with their families. We are currently on site working closely with OSHA, our subcontractor and the local authorities to determine the cause of this incident and confirm the safety of the site. Safety on our jobsites continues to be our number one priority and we will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure our workers return home safely at the end of every work day.”
A spokesperson for Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP), owner of the site said,
"The safety of the workers on site and in the surrounding areas is our top priority. We are thankful for the swift response from Boston emergency services. As members of the South Boston community, we, along with our contractor, will work with all local authorities to address the situation and keep the community up to date on developments.