Family of man trapped in rubble frustrated by slowness


As work goes on to find a missing worker trapped in the rubble, MDC announces school will be closed for several weeks. Students will be sent to other campuses.

Frustrated by what they call a lack of urgency in trying to find the fourth and final man caught in the rubble, more than 60 family members held hand-made signs and yelled at police and fire officials Saturday, four days after an under-construction parking garage collapsed.

“My husband deserves better than this. He’s a good man, he deserves respect,’’ said Laurel Budhoo, wife of missing worker Robert Budhoo. “If he’s alive they’re not trying to save him, and if he’s dead, they’re leaving him to rot.’’

Budhoo, 53, an electrician with Stryker Electric, was one of the workers caught in the tons of steel and concrete when a new five-story parking structure being built at Miami-Dade College’s West Campus collapsed on Wednesday.

Killed in the accident were: Carlos Hurtado de Mendoza, 48; Jose Calderon, 60, and Samuel Perez, 53.

Meanwhile, on Saturday Miami Dade College announced the West Campus would remain closed for several weeks due the accident.

Students will be sent to the following locations:

• West Campus daytime weekday credit classes will be held at MDC’s North Campus, 11380 NW 27th Avenue.

• West Campus evening and Saturday credit classes will take place at Ronald Reagan Senior High School in Doral, at 8600 NW 107th Ave. Parking is not available at Reagan High School. The college has established a drop-off and pick-up location at the International Mall near the Sears for transportation to and from the North Campus and Reagan High School beginning at 6 a.m.

Information booths will be onsite at the North Campus and Reagan High to assist students in finding their classrooms.

• West Campus non-credit day time classes will take place at the Kendall Campus and nearby locations.

Additional instructions are being sent directly to all students and employees of the West Campus. Other information can also be obtained by visiting

Near the site where Robert Budhoo remains trapped, his family on Saturday demanded an explanation for why the recovery effort is moving so slowly.

“The building was unsafe the moment it came down and still they had 300 people out here to save the other men,” said Laurel Budhoo.

The family’s collective anguish was heartbreaking. One of Budhoo’s five young grandchildren asked why Poppa wouldn’t come home. His 28-year-old daughter Tasha Bagwandeen pleaded with someone to tell them what was going on. His brother Donovan Budhoo stared at the pile of rubble, arms crossed, watching every slow movement of the crane.

Doral Police Chief Ricardo Gomez tried to explain the “multiple layers of jurisdiction’’ involved in the rescue operation: Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue, police, structural engineers, OSHA, Ajax Building Corp. and Stryker Electric.

“I’ve seen the workers put there and they’re working as hard as they can,” Gomez said. “They’re out there 18 hours at a time and it’s just as frustrating for them as it is for you.”

A Doral police officer said there were 20 workers and a slew of engineers moving buckets of smaller debris. He said they were trying to create pockets where they could feed a camera to see deeper in the pile. Not only is the collapsed building unstable, he said, workers have felt the neighboring structure shift as well.

The family’s biggest complaint is the lack of resources and apparent lagging urgency in the recovery operation. Workers stayed until sundown Thursday, but at the family’s insistence, brought out lights to work until 11:15 pm Friday.

“When the workers left last night they wouldn’t even talk to us,” Laurel Budhoo said. “They marched past us like we were bystanders at a bus stop.”

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