At least 11 hurt at Ohio casino construction site

LISA CORNWELL Associated Press Published:

CINCINNATI (AP) -- A section of floor collapsed Friday at the construction site of the city's new casino, sending workers tumbling 30 feet to the ground and causing minor injuries for at least 11 people, authorities said.

A crew was pouring a section of concrete floor when an underlying support beam "sheared away," fire Chief Richard Braun said.

"The floor came down in what we call a 'V' collapse, and all the workers were on top of it," Braun said. "They basically rode the 'V' down." No one was underneath the 30-foot by 50-foot section of floor.

The injured were sent to hospitals with mostly bruises and bumps, and possibly some broken bones, the fire chief said.

All workers were accounted for, said Steve Rosenthal, of casino co-developer Rock Gaming LLC, in a statement.

Jessie Folmar, a spokeswoman for Cincinnati-based Messer Construction Co., said the company was on site trying to learn what happened.

The collapse occurred on what will be the second floor of the building and sent the workers sliding about 30 feet to the floor below, said Jason Mullins, business manager for a union representing ironworkers on the project, not the workers who were hurt. The building's structural framework was over one-third complete, Mullins said.

Fire Chief Braun said as many as 13 injured were hospitalized, while police department spokesman Lt. Maurice Robinson said 11 were transported to hospitals from the scene. Braun explained the discrepancy by saying that two people may have taken themselves to hospitals.

The casino is being developed by Rock Gaming in partnership with Caesar's Entertainment. The same team is behind a casino project in downtown Cleveland where a garage partially collapsed on Dec. 16. A 60-foot by 60-foot second-level section of the parking deck gave way while concrete was being poured. No one was injured.

Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati is a $400 million development under construction in the northeast corner of the city's center and is expected to open in spring 2013, an official with the company told an Ohio House panel at a hearing this week. The casino is supposed to attract nearly 6 million visitors and create 1,700 jobs, said Lee Dillard, vice president of finance for the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland. It will feature three outward-facing restaurants, about 2,000 slot machines, 85 table games and a 31-table World Series of Poker room.

Casino development was touted during a statewide legalization campaign in 2009 for the immediate boost it would give to Ohio's economy, particularly through the temporary construction jobs needed to build the four new facilities in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus and Toledo. According to a recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America, construction jobs indeed rose in Ohio this past year -- from 163,400 in December 2010 to 168,600 last month.

State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said a constitutional amendment passed in 2009 called for jurisdiction over construction matters at the facilities to remain with local authorities, in this case the city of Cincinnati, and the federal Occupational and Safety Administration.

Seitz, who had been briefed by Rock lobbyist and former Cincinnati Mayor Charlie Luken, said the two concrete companies working on the job were Baker Concrete and Johnson Concrete.

He said casinos certainly have been in a hurry because of the lost time taken to complete negotiations with the state, including Gov. John Kasich, over how their facilities would be taxed, but added: "I don't think they're knowingly or willfully sacrificing safety or quality for time."

___

Associated Press reporters Doug Whiteman, Julie Carr Smyth and Ann Sanner in Columbus and John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.