The structural engineer hired by the city of Surfside
, to investigate what caused the devastating condominium collapse in June expressed his dissatisfaction with the process this week, claiming he has been denied access to necessary materials.
According to CNN
's Allyn Kilsheimer, the local fire
department initially controlled the collapse site, but the Miami-Dade Police
Department took over and declared the area a crime
“As a result, they’re in control of everything and they have to do their job,” Kilsheimer explained, “and until they do their job, we can’t go in and do samples of materials and take those samples and test them to understand what the various compounds of the building that came down [were].”
In an interview
with a local news
station on Wednesday, he was more explicit.
“It makes it more difficult because I'm frustrated that I can't get what I want when I want it,” Kilsheimer told Miami's Local 10 news.
He claims he has been asked to analyze drone footage of the site and that he is not even allowed to access the rubble that has been removed and stored in a secure area, despite the fact that law enforcement
officials have stated that they are attempting to preserve evidence.
The engineer, whose career spans decades and who previously investigated the Pentagon
on September 11, 2001, as well as the Oklahoma City bombing
, stated that he had never been denied access to a scene in the past.
Ideally, Kilsheimer said his team would be able to go to the site and look at the basement slab of the ruined Champlain Towers South
to do "the exploratory testing of the grounds and pile foundations." He said he had "20 or 30" ideas for what could have caused the collapse and has only been able to eliminate "one or two," while adding "five or six."
His 15-person team is currently working on modeling the original building design with computers to see if it met building codes at the time
of its construction in 1981, but without access to the rubble, the team is unable to factor in the strength of the materials used in the construction.
“Basically, as I understand it based on emails I receive, a lot of people
living on the coast in this area are worried about their buildings, and there are people who have gotten them to believe that this problem is something in the ground. We don’t know if it’s a problem in the ground or not, and we need to do this testing and evaluation to understand that,” Kilsheimer said Friday.
A team of six people from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which was given the authority to investigate structural failures after Sept. 11, is also investigating the cause of the collapse, according to Kilsheimer. The two teams have different investigative methods and should share all of their knowledge with one another.
“We share all testing results and factual data; we don’t share opinions; we just share everything together,” he explained, adding that “that, to me, is the best way to do something like this.”
According to local officials, the search-and-recovery effort is nearing completion, and the final death toll
is expected to be between 95 and 99 people, based on the number of missing person reports and the number of remains already identified.
This week, police released
a series of 911 calls made the night of the collapse; some believe they may hold clues to what caused it. Callers described first seeing the surface by the condo's pool collapse.
Authorities in Florida have already launched criminal and civil investigations into the building collapse
in order to determine who is to blame; the goal, according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava
last week, is to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.
Stardia's request for comment was not immediately answered by Miami-Dade County.
Prior to the collapse, city officials and residents were aware of structural issues with Champlain Tower South
, but the necessary repairs were costly, and the condo board
was still negotiating with condo owners for funds.