Worker's leg severed during building demolition in Miami Beach, police say

Samuel Landis, 46, struck by piece of debris, witnesses say

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – A worker's leg was severed Monday during a building demolition in Miami Beach, according to an incident report obtained Tuesday.

A Miami Beach police officer wrote in the report that the 13-story building "collapsed in an unsafe manner, causing debris and thick smoke to cover Collins Avenue."

The officer took cover in their patrol vehicle "to escape the thick smoke," the report stated.

Ernesto Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department, said the former Marlborough House condominium building had a demolition permit but did not have an implosion permit, which would allow them to bring the structure down in one fell swoop. But something happened during the controlled demolition that sent the entire building crashing down anyway.

Debris from the collapse filled the surrounding area in the 5700 block of Collins Avenue, and police shut down nearby streets for blocks.

The injured worker was identified as 46-year-old Samuel Landis.

Witnesses said a piece of debris struck Landis just below the chest, throwing him several feet across Collins Avenue.

"The boulder hit in the center of his chest and threw him probably around 5 feet," witness Rodolfo Pages said. 

Video shows the worker at the demolition site when suddenly a piece of flying debris hits his leg.
Then, an even larger chunk of concrete flew straight across the road. 

"The boulder was about the size of that front-end of that Ford Explorer, and it flew across -- it literally flew across. It was in flight when it hit him," Pages said. 

According to the incident report, an officer and a parking enforcement official at the scene rotated chest compressions until Landis resuscitated. 

Authorities said he was then taken by Miami Beach Fire Rescue to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, where he was listed in critical condition.

Some officers were admitted to Mount Sinai Medical Center as a precaution because of the heavy smoke they were breathing in. 

The Marlborough House was set to be demolished to make way for a modern oceanfront tower.

Last year, the project's developers, Miami Beach Associates LLC initially requested a permit for demolition by implosion -- something Miami Beach officials said they no longer allow. 

"They had been denied so it was standard demolition that was supposed to be taking place. They had a standard demolition permit," Miami Beach Building Director Ana Salgueiro said.

According to city records of the permitting process, the company changed their request to a conventional demolition in November and were approved. According to notices posted at neighboring condo building, the demolition work was scheduled to begin Monday. 

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