What caused Surfside collapse? Engineer offers insight

Maria Fernanda Martinez, left, and Mariana Corderiro, right, of Boca Raton, Fla., stand outside of the 12-story beachfront condo building that partially collapsed last week. (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Experts are weighing in on the big question still left unanswered in Surfside — what caused the catastrophic collapse of part of the Champlain Towers South condo building?

Rick Slider, a structural engineer, spoke in detail on Sunday’s episode of Local 10′s “This Week in South Florida.”

“It looks like a support condition that one of the lower columns towards the middle of the building could be the piling of support system under the ground, but also could be the lower-level columns, at least what appears to be and obviously, there are investigators that are gonna be conducting their reviews, and we’ll be able to determine what the assessment is,” Slider said.


Newly released records suggest serious structural concerns at Champlain Towers South three years ago that were just beginning to be addressed.

While Champlain Towers South had already started its required 40-year recertification, inspections by engineers detailed issues that apparently remained open for the past three years.

Newly released inspection records show possible structural concerns after fine and medium-sized cracks were found in some concrete slabs and columns.

There were also signs of rebar corrosion and concrete spalling.

The consultant noted that previous garage concrete repairs had failed.

[ALSO SEE: Before building collapse, $9M+ in repairs needed]

“Although the photographs in the report don’t really show an extensive amount, it does reflect that the lower level columns in the garage are under structural distress and are exhibiting corrosion and breaking our concrete,” Slider said.

Considering those concerns, should the recertification process be done earlier on oceanfront buildings?

“That’s certainly an item to be entertained,” Slider said. “I would say in my experience, and when we are doing these certifications and others that I’ve seen, usually the observations that are made by the engineer, and a qualified engineer is going to be able to assess the level of the cracks.”

When asked if negligence could have played a role, the chair of the Miami-Dade Commission said it’s too soon to speculate.

“We have to wait until the reports are done by the investigators,” Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz said. “We have people that have come from Washington, and we have the state people that are also the engineers also. Once we hear clearly what happens, then we can speak.”

[ALSO SEE: Team of national scientists to visit Surfside collapse site]

About the Author:

Trent Kelly is an award-winning multimedia journalist who joined the Local 10 News team in June 2018. Trent is no stranger to Florida. Born in Tampa, he attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he graduated with honors from the UF College of Journalism and Communications.