Carroll Dexter Wills has been identified as the person who was killed in a parking deck collapse in Md.

4:22 PM, May 24, 2013   |    comments
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BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA9) -- Carroll Wills had been an ironworker for 33 years. His family says he was a darn good one.

But nothing could have saved him when a 55-thousand pound parking deck collapsed on his head Thursday at Montgomery Mall.

The county has ordered the contractor to stop work here until they answer that question of why. What's really shocking is how often this seems to happen. I can remember three parking deck collapses in Montgomery County.

And they all were during construction or demolition.

Mall security kept nosy photographers off the property as investigators started trying to figure out why a 55 thousand pound chunk of concrete collapsed on two workers.

It took firefighters four hours Thursday to secure the shifting concrete with struts and beams and pull out the one guy, who was alert and talking as he was wheeled to an ambulance and then flown to Baltimore's Shock Trauma Hospital.

It took another hour for them to recover Carroll Wills body. The veteran ironworker never had a chance.

An executive from Whiting Turner Construction told his family that he was killed instantly when the piece of deck came down.

One of the country's top structural engineers tells me parking structures like this have far fewer redundant features to hold them up should a weld, a beam, or column fail.

Putting them up -- or taking them down -- he says is a bit like working with an erector set. The workers were tearing off the fourth floor to make way for Montgomery Mall's expansion. Investigators will try and figure out if there was something wrong with the structure or something wrong with the way it was taken apart that caused the collapse.

Structural engineer Allyn Kilsheimer, the guy who shored up the Pentagon after 9-11, tells me he's dealt with far too many of these.

Maybe 100 around the world. Almost all when they are under construction. And he says 3 out of 4 times they collapse just before a long holiday weekend when workers are in a big rush to get home to their families. 

He doesn't know what happened here. But he says he's really sick that so many workers have died working on these things.


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