Structure Collapse Causes Border Closure

Roof collapse injured 11, closed border

By Lindsay Hood, Lauren Steussy and Greg Bledsoe
|  Thursday, Sep 15, 2011  |  Updated 11:54 AM PDT
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Roof Collapse Traps Multiple Cars

AP

Border officials and emergency personnel look over the construction site where a scaffolding collapsed at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego on Sept. 14, 2011.

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Cars Barely Trickling into U.S. After Collapse

Vehicles attempting to cross into the United States are barely getting through.
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officials re-opened part of the San Ysidro port of entry for vehicle processing, although vehicles were still just trickling into the United States. 

All 13 people who were hospitalized under the collapsed roof at the border crossing yesterday have been released.

Early Thursday morning, only half the lanes were open, causing wait times of about an hour. Pedestrians were able to access the port of entry Wednesday evening following the construction accident.

The San Ysidro border crossing is the busiest port of entry in the world.

The border had to close while firefighters worked to rescue three people who became trapped when a portion of a wood platform underneath the roof collapsed around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Rescuers believe four construction workers were on top of the roof when it collapsed. They were taken to the hospital, and one is in critical condition.

The roof was being demolished as part of planned construction, but the temporary platform used to catch debris did not hold up. The border crossing was being demolished as part of a construction project while the crossing lanes remain open.

Half a dozen cars were in the Secondary Inspection area when a large wooden platform collapsed, said San Diego Fire spokesperson Maurice Luque.

Most of the victims were able to get out on their own, but three victims had to be rescued by firefighters after becoming trapped inside their cars, Luque said.

The platform was just below the roof that houses the Customs and Border Protection's Secondary Inspection on the northbound side of Interstate 5 as it crosses the U.S.-Mexico border.

Thirteen victims, including a pregnant woman, were transported to local hospitals with injuries. Four of the victims were construction workers, once of which was seriously injured. About 24 others were assessed by paramedics at the scene.

Most of the victims were complaining about breathing and respiratory problems, Luque said.

The platform is made of wood framing and panels. We've learned the subcontractor working on the wood platform is Miller Environmental based out of Anaheim. According to officials with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, Miller Environmental has two prior safety violations.  In 2010, the company was fined $18,400 for not properly using fall prevention.  In 2007, it was fined $935 after a scrap metal accident ending with a worker having a fingertip amputated. 

There's no word on what may have caused the wood platform to collapse.  We're told CAL-OSHA and Federal OSHA officials are investigating. 

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