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Thursday, September 15, 2011

NEWS - BORDER-CROSSING ROOF COLLAPSE


SEVERAL INJURED IN BORDER-CROSSING ROOF COLLAPSE
By Kristina Davis, Reporter - Public safety
Sandra Dibble, Reporter - Border, Baja California
Originally published September 14, 2011

SAN YSIDRO - Three people, including a pregnant woman, were hospitalized and 17 more were being evaluated for possible injuries following the collapse of an overhead canopy on more than a dozen cars at the San Ysidro border crossing Wednesday, authorities said.

The collapse of wooden panels, wooden support beams and concrete debris occurred at 10:45 a.m. on about 15 cars that had just entered the U.S. from Mexico, said Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Construction workers rescued three people who were trapped in vehicles, while other motorists were able to get out on their own.

Two people were taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista with major trauma, a hospital spokesperson said. A third person was taken to another hospital with unknown injuries.

About 17 other motorists and construction workers were being evaluated by paramedics for possible injuries, mostly complaints of breathing in dust following the collapse, Luque said.

The incident caused traffic at the border to come to a near halt. All northbound vehicle and pedestrian lanes have been shut down, and crossers are being urged to head to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

One lane of the southbound Interstate 5 was closed. The line of cars heading south backed up nearly a mile and traffic was moving slow as drivers tried to get off the freeway.

No traffic advisories have been issued for Interstate 805 in the area.
Structural engineers were heading to the scene to assess the damage and determine how to safely remove the cars from underneath the debris.

The wooden panels that collapsed were being held up by wooden support beams, and when they went down, pieces of concrete debris came with it.

The area that collapsed is part of an ongoing expansion project. The cause of the collapse is under investigation.