Two kids killed in stairwell collapse

July 17, 2008 8:26:48 AM PDT
Two children were killed and another injured Wednesday evening in a stairwell collapse in southwest Houston. The three children were playing on a sidewalk at the Westwood Fountain apartments on Concourse near Lansdale when the stairway above them collapsed on top of them.

"We just heard this big crash and I said, 'What was that?' and we ran to a window and we heard a lady screaming," said witness Amanda Pro.

As Pro and her husband ran outside, she could see people running towards the twisted metal of the staircase and could hear the screams of at least one child. The other two were killed by the impact.

"We pulled one out and the other ones just weren't moving," said a witness with whom we spoke. "We tried, but the metal and the concrete were too heavy."

The three children are not related. Ten-year-old David Vasquez and five-year-old Miguel Robledo died in the collapse. The third child, a nine-year-old, was pulled from the rubble and transported to Texas Children's Hospital with what we believe is a broken leg.

The entire building -- eight units in total -- has been evacuated and the residents of those units will likely be out for several hours. There are questions about the stability of the structure and it's possible that part of the building will have to be torn down.

When the steel and concrete stairwell collapsed, the structural integrity of the building was affected. Structural engineers with the city of Houston's dangerous buildings department were heading out to assess the damage. In the meantime, fire crews maintained stability.

"We have three walls that are showing signs of structural collapse. The structure's in question," said Assistant Chief Omero Longoria with the Houston Fire Department. "We have our heavy rescue division out here."

Depending on what structural engineers say, the apartment complex building can be repaired or it will have to be destroyed.

We did some checking on the complex where this incident happened and found it's owned by RVB Apartments. That's the building's eighth owner since it was built in the mid 1980's.

Neighborhood Protection and inspectors will be on the site today to look at the entire complex, that's according to the city.

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