Witness describes horror uni ceiling collapse

 

A witness has described the moment two construction workers fell into a "big mess of steel and glass", killing one of them and leaving the other fighting for life.

The pair were working at a new construction area at Curtin University's Bentley campus in Perth when the glass ceiling caved in just after 12.30pm on Tuesday.

A 23-year-old apprentice died in the huge fall, while two other men, also aged in their 20s, suffered multiple injuries.

Firefighters had to free the two injured men from the rubble, then paramedics rushed them to Royal Perth Hospital.

One is in a critical condition and will require surgery, while the other is stable.

Firefighters had to free two of the men who were trapped in the rubble. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian Source: Supplied
Firefighters had to free two of the men who were trapped in the rubble. Picture: Simon Santi/The West Australian Source: Supplied

Police Commander Mike Bell said the deceased man was working on the canopy with one of the other injured men when they fell from the fifth floor, which is a drop of more than 20 metres.

"The men were standing on top of the structure when it suddenly gave way without warning," the officer told reporters.

"The cause of that collapse is yet to be determined."

The cause of the collapse is not yet known. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian Source: Supplied
The cause of the collapse is not yet known. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian Source: Supplied

The other injured man was working inside the structure and fell about 10 metres, but he was conscious and able to talk to emergency crews.

"Police and emergency crews are working ... to make the site safe, at which point we can remove the body of the deceased and we can commence our investigation proper," Commander Bell said.

"A file will be prepared for the coroner."

Workers console each other after the ceiling collapse. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian Source: Supplied
Workers console each other after the ceiling collapse. Picture: Nic Ellis/The West Australian Source: Supplied

Commander Bell said the deceased man's family had been notified and they were devastated.

"He was unfortunately deceased once he fell," the officer said.

"We do know where the deceased (body) is."

The families of the injured men are yet to be notified.

The deceased man died in the fall. Picture: Twitter user @oliviadii Source: Twitter
The deceased man died in the fall. Picture: Twitter user @oliviadii Source: Twitter

Glass was "flying everywhere" and some construction workers reportedly had to be stopped from trying to go in to help their injured colleagues.

Dozens of shocked construction workers gathered on the lawn outside the fallen structure and watched on in desperation.

One told the NCA NewsWire he saw the men fall into a "big mess of steel and glass" and heard them scream.

Electrical Trades Union official Damian Clancey was onsite at the time and described it as a "massive crashing sound" and a "tremendous noise".

"There's a gap between each individual panel, so they were effectively doing I guess what you would call roof plumbing work where they were sealing gaps, putting in flashings, otherwise you'd have rain pouring down through it," he told 6PR radio.

One person at the university, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the NCA NewsWire she heard a "boom sound" while she was having her lunch at the other side of the campus.

"I didn't think much of it. Then I was meditating and I could hear all the sirens," she said.

The building that gave way is currently under construction. Picture: Twitter user @oliviadii Source: Twitter
The building that gave way is currently under construction. Picture: Twitter user @oliviadii Source: Twitter

A Curtin University spokesperson confirmed the collapse happened at building 418, which was currently under construction, and the site was being managed by Lend Lease.

"We have been advised that no Curtin students or staff were involved in the incident," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with all impacted by this accident."

Curtin University also sent a text alert to all students after the collapse that read: "There has been an accident on the construction site of Building 418. Emergency services personnel are on site. Please avoid the area and avoid University Boulevard."

It is understood to be an architecture building.

Four WorkSafe officers have also been sent to the site and will conduct their own investigation.

CFMEU state secretary Mick Buchan said "we're not going to leave any rock unturned to get to the outcome of what's happened".

"It's 2020, these events should not occur in the building and construction industry," he told reporters.

Premier Mark McGowan also acknowledged the "terrible tragedy" in parliament and passed on his thoughts to those involved.


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