Concrete failure blamed in fatal MU walkway collapse - KCTV5

Concrete failure blamed in fatal MU walkway collapse

Posted: Updated:
COLUMBIA, MO (KCTV) -

A walkway collapse at a University of Missouri apartment building was due to concrete failure after years of exposure to the elements, according to an engineering firm's report.

An engineer for Trabue, Hansen and Hinshaw delivered the report on Tuesday to the university. The report was released Wednesday.

Columbia fire Lt. Bruce Britt died when the outside walkway crashed to the ground in the early morning hours of Feb. 22 as Britt was trying to rescue residents who believed the building's roof had collapsed and were trapped. 

Residents of the University Village apartments heard a loud "bang." That was their only warning for the walkway collapse.

"In general, the walkway support beams, metal deck and concrete slabs were all found to be significantly deteriorated," the report from structural engineer Patrick Earney found.

Showing photos of the damage post-collapse, the firm seeking the cause said the metal supports were "corroded" but intact.

Weather exposure was considered severe.

"It is likely that water and chlorides, and expansion from freeze-thaw action, combined to deteriorate the concrete to the point where its shear strength could no longer support even only the self-weight of the walkway," the report concluded.

The walkway initially sagged and then later collapsed when Britt was on it.

The report doesn't speculate on liability, but MU spokesman Christian Basi says no one could have seen it coming.

Basi said those buildings and walkways are inspected every year and that additional shoring took place the day after the collapse on the other buildings in the complex.

"They told us had they been there even a week before and inspected the walkway, they could not have predicted the failure," Basi said.

That said, the red flags were in sight as far back as 2008 in a Graduate and Family Master Housing Master Plan.

The apartments had been on a list for renovations, but it did not occur because of lack of funding.

To see the report and other documents related to the collapse, click here.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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