JFRD Chief ‘pretty confident’ everyone safe after partial parking garage collapse in Riverside

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An active investigation is underway into Tuesday afternoon’s partial collapse of a parking garage at Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside.

Seventy-five firefighters responded to the call at 12:14 p.m., Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Chief Keith Powers said.


JFRD’s Urban Search & Rescue used dogs and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office drones to search for people and no one was found. Powers said he was “pretty confident” everyone was safe, but said a structural engineer will need to come in to deem the garage safe before more searching can be done.

“Until we can finish un-piling some of that stuff and get structural engineers in here to make sure it’s safe, we can’t say 1,000% that everyone is accounted for,” Powers said.

Firefighters and police officers had to help get some people out of the stairwells of the garage. Powers said they weren’t trapped, they just needed help.

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JSO Chief Jamie Eason said the only road in the area that will remain closed is the entrance to the emergency room at St. Johns and King, as well as the entrance to the parking garage.

One-hundred and eleven cars, as well as their tag numbers, have been counted in the garage, Eason said.

It will be up to structural engineers to determine when people who have cars inside will be able to get them out, Eason said.

The buildings that are adjacent to the garage will be condemned until the building owner can get a structural engineer to determine the best way to stabilize the structure, Powers said.

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‘Everything happened so fast’

Witnesses told Action News Jax about the moment the third floor of one of the parking garages partially collapsed.

Jeffrey Whitmore said he parked his car on the first floor of the parking garage around 12:05 to 12:10 p.m., as he had an appointment at 12:20 p.m.

He went up to the third floor and was checking in with a nurse when they felt the building shake. He and the nurse ran out of the door and they saw the third floor of the parking garage collapse into the second floor.

“Everything happened so fast,” Whitmore said.

The emergency room entrance to Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside will also be closed, JSO said.

Ascension St. Vincent’s said the ER will remain open and accessible through a different entrance. They released the following statement on Tuesday afternoon:

“Earlier today, the third level of the Chartrand Building parking garage at Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside collapsed onto the second level. We are working closely with authorities to investigate the scene and will share more information as it becomes available.

“Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside’s ER remains open. Patients requiring emergency care can enter through the Dillon Building.”

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Ascension St. Vincent’s released an updated statement on Tuesday evening about building closures:

“As you may be aware, the third level of the Chartrand Building parking garage at Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside collapsed onto the second level. Representatives from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office conducted a thorough investigation of the parking garage, and they believe no injuries occurred.

“Cardiology and Podiatry at Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside is closed until further notice. The office will reach out to patients to reschedule their appointments at one of our other clinics.

“The investigation is ongoing and we will provide more details at the appropriate time.”

Photos: Partial parking garage collapse at Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside

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