Two off-duty Miami Beach police officers were working at a demolition site Monday, stopping traffic on Collins Avenue before each procedure to bring down a 13-story condo, the project’s contractor said Friday in an account that differed from what city officials told the Miami Herald.
When the former Marlborough House collapsed, sending debris into the street, a chunk of concrete struck and gravely injured a project manager standing in the street. The man later lost his leg. A stretch of the normally busy street was littered with more jagged pieces of concrete.
The Herald reported Friday that the actions of an off-duty officer may have prevented further injuries when he spotted something wrong at the demolition site and flagged down a nearby fire engine for help in blocking traffic on the busy street. The story quoted Miami Beach Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán, who detailed the officer’s role during a discussion of the building collapse at Thursday’s commission meeting.
The project’s general contractor, Winmar Construction, and the subcontractor, AlliedBean Demolition, did not respond to the Herald’s requests for comment on Alemán’s account.
On Friday, Winmar Construction asked that the story be clarified to say that the off-duty officer — and a second officer — had been hired by AlliedBean to monitor all procedures and operations during the demolition and had arrived at the site before work began that morning. Stopping traffic was part of their job, Winmar said.
“They oversaw that Collins Avenue was stopped/closed every time a procedure was in place that morning. The off duty police officers were retained even though road closures are not required for private property demolition,” Luis Leon, president of Winmar Construction, said in a statement.
Miami Beach police declined to comment on the officers’ role in monitoring the project while the department is investigating the collapse. It is not uncommon for off-duty officers to be hired for private jobs such as this one.