republican debate

Iowa building collapse survivors remember horror amid lawsuits

  • A six-story building collapsed in Davenport, Iowa, in May, killing three
  • Lawsuits were filed against parties involved; no charges have been filed
  • Survivor's wife: 'I blinked and the floor just caved in'

DAVENPORT, Iowa (NewsNation) — It has been just over four months since a six-story building crumbled in Davenport, sending debris, belongings and people plummeting to the pavement.

The collapse influenced an urgent search for survivors and resulted in the discovery of three victims.

Bystanders stood emotional as they watched the last surviving victim being pulled from the rubble, a woman who spent hours trapped under debris.

The story dominated headlines for days.

Lexus Berry was preparing for Sunday dinner with her wife, Quanishia Berry, when the building came down.

“She grabbed a cat, and I grabbed a cat. We went toward the door and didn’t have anything. We didn’t have shoes, we went to open the door and I blinked, the floor just caved in, and she fell four stories down,” Lexus Berry said.

Andrew M. Stroth, who now represents the Berrys, said Quanishia Berry was trapped for seven hours between concrete beams and water gushing out. She had to cover her head just to protect it from any other falling debris.

Surgeons were forced to amputate Quanishia Berry’s leg to free her from the rubble.

”After seven hours, and after her thinking that she might die, the first responders came in, and on-site, performed an emergency operation to surgically amputate her leg from about five inches below the waist,” Stroth explained.

Including the Berry’s, lawsuit after lawsuit was filed against the building’s owner, the engineering firm and contractor hired before the collapse, as well as the city of Davenport.

City inspectors reported they had taken complaints, including emails and a 911 call made the day before the crash that reported unstable conditions.

None of the parties that are now being sued called for an evacuation.

“The owners were more interested in profits and making money than the preservation or protection of life,” Stroth said.

So far, no criminal charges have been filed, but the building’s owner, Andrew Wold, pleaded guilty to a civil infraction.

The clean-up impacted downtown Davenport for months as the demolition involved asbestos and other hazardous materials.

Structural problems stretched beyond the collapse site.

“The parking lot behind the building was basically riddled with sinkholes,” one tenant told NewsNation.

Renters and business owners at the nearby executive square said their buildings are in danger, too. One tenant said he received just one message to get out and not a word since. Nor did he receive his security deposit back or his June rent.

Some businesses did re-open, but others, like Obsucra Tattoos, are still without a home.

A new city report blames the collapse on the “removal” of several columns of “masonry during repair work, severely compromising the bearing wall” and said the “temporary shoring” was “grossly inadequate.”

But the emotional toll of the collapse is still hitting the residents and the families of those lost.

”When I talked to her afterward, she said, ‘Andrew, they may have taken my leg, but they haven’t taken my life,’” Stroth said.

Among the many parties being sued, the engineering company was the only party to respond to our request for comment.

That company said the building’s owner and the city of Davenport did not follow its recommendations for the repair work that was ongoing when the building collapsed.

The city of Davenport said they cannot comment due to the pending lawsuits.


Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending on NewsNation