OMAHA, NE – Authorities released the name of one of the men who died after a building collapsed in Omaha Monday. They recovered Keith Everett, 53, from the crumbled concrete and steel of the International Nutrition plant just after 5 p.m.
As night fell, the body of another worker remained buried in the rubble. Interim Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger said weather conditions had deteriorated and the structure was too unstable to continue the recovery effort. They suspended the operation at 6:30 p.m.
“We had a third floor collapse and a second floor collapse down on to the first floor, so there’s significant structural damage,” Kanger said. “High winds and brutally cold temperatures made it unsafe for the rescuers to continue the operation, so we suspended that.”
Kanger said crews would be back on the scene early Tuesday. Emergency crews found both bodies on the second floor of the International Nutrition rubble. The recovery process was dangerous and difficult because of the structure’s stability issues.
“The damage to the inside of the structure would be considered tremendous. It was a catastrophic failure of some structural components which is why we have to make sure there’s enough structural support for those elements,” said Assistant Chief Shane Hunter said.
“Tomorrow’s effort is going to be labor intensive and time consuming just because of the structural elements that have failed,” Kanger said.
As one crew focused on recovery, several other agencies were at the collapsed plant investigating the accident. Kanger said that investigation could take weeks.
“There are reports of fire and explosion. What we do know is that there was a significant event that occurred that resulted in a catastrophic failure in parts of that building,” Kanger said.
Every employee had been accounted for Monday night. Kanger said they believed two people were dead, but would sift through the rubble to make sure no plant visitors were inside when the building collapsed.