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 June 7, 2023

Police find bodies of last missing individuals in Iowa apartment building collapse

The bodies of three people who were thought to be in the Davenport, Iowa, apartment building that collapsed last month have been found, the Daily Wire reported. The six-story structure was the subject of numerous complaints to both the owner and the city before this incident.

A portion of the building's brick wall crumbled away on Sunday, May 28, leaving a portion of the structure with a gaping hole and unsteady. In the two days following the incident, eight people were pulled from the rubble alive.

One person was pinned in the rubble until rescuers amputated her leg to set her free. A ninth person was found on May 31, but after that, no other survivors were found.

Rescue efforts were hampered by the building's ongoing instability even after the initial collapse. The structure was still swaying until at least 36 hours after the initial crumbling.

Prior to being found, it was determined that three men, Daniel Prien, 60, Ryan Hitchcock, 51, and Branden Colvin Sr., 42, were said to have a "high probability of being home at the time of the collapse." Their bodies were finally recovered Monday, and authorities believe they were the last residents left unaccounted.

Prior to the collapse, both the city of Davenport and the building's owner were notified of possible structural problems. Building resident Dayna Feuerbach has already filed a lawsuit against both claiming they should have done something about it.

"The city had warning after warning," Feurbach's attorney Jeffrey Goodman said. "They had the responsibility to make sure that the safety of the citizens comes first. It is very clear that the city of Davenport didn’t do that."

Davenport Mayor Mike Matson also expressed his"regrets" about the situation before the last bodies were recovered.  "Do I have regrets about this tragedy and about people potentially losing their lives? Hell yeah," he said last week.

"Do I think about this every moment? Hell yeah. I have regrets about a lot of things. Believe me, we’re going to look at that." Matson said.

In the months leading up to the tragedy, the city interacted with the building's owner, Andrew Wold, almost a dozen times, the Associated Press reported. A portion of the brick wall was visibly crumbling to the point that utility workers refused to interact with the building.

Davenport Chief Building Official Trishna Pradhan warned that the southwest wall that would eventually give way  and "has been gradually falling" while there was "visible crumbling of this exterior load-bearing wall under the support beam." She warned Wold that unless the problems were addressed, the building would be under emergency orders to vacate.

Bettendorf-firm Select Structural Engineer David Valliere said in his initial assessment that "this damaged area is not an imminent danger to the entire building and its residents. An evacuation or lockout of the building is not necessary at this time."

Efforts to repair the century-old structure began the following month, but problems arose when the firm doing the work requested more compensation due to finding that the repairs were more extensive than they originally believed to be necessary. Then on May 24, just days before the collapse, Valliere inspected the property again and warned the wall would "appear ready to fall imminently."

This failure to enforce building codes and heed the warning of experts caused unnecessary loss of life. This tragedy could have been avoided with proper follow-up from the owner and swift government action, but neither occurred.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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