DAVENPORT, Iowa (NewsNation) — A search and recovery mission remains on hold in Davenport, nearly four days since the partial collapse of an apartment building that forced residents out of their apartments. Their apartment has disappeared into a heap of bricks and steel far below that could come crashing down at any moment, but many question if people are still inside.
Two of the building’s residents are missing and believed to be in the rubble. An additional three people also remain unaccounted for, but authorities have said they do not believe they were home when the building collapsed. One resident who was rescued had to have a leg amputated to free her from debris. Her wife says it’s like a miracle that she’s alive.
Branden Colvin Jr., whose father is still missing, told NewsNation that he’s praying authorities will go into the rubble to find his father.
“I know he was in there and his phone was on. It was ringing. I was calling him; for three days it’s been ringing,” Colvin said. “Yesterday, it just stopped ringing; his phone died, so I know he was there.”
The six-story building partially collapsed just before 5 p.m. Sunday, but it took hours before rescuers found Quanishia “Peach” Berry trapped in the rubble and then determined one of her legs would need to be amputated to pull her free. Peach Berry’s wife, Lexus Berry, gave her assent. Doctors removed the leg and rushed her to a hospital, mindful that the remainder of the building could come down at any time.
“It’s definitely something that’s like a miracle that she’s here,” Lexus Berry told the Associated Press. “Due to the circumstances, they had to make a judgment call. And that’s the best thing for her, honestly, because she’s still here.”
Davenport Police Chief Jeff Bladel said there were 53 tenants in the 80-unit building, and now most of them are struggling to find housing and start rebuilding their lives. They have not been allowed into the apartments to retrieve belongings, though crews were able to rescue some pets Tuesday.
City officials have not yet released new details about its plans for the building, but at about 6 p.m. on Wednesday, the city released hundreds of pages of documents, including structural engineering reports, violation notices and resident complaints, according to the Quad-City Times.
Among the documents was an inspection report by Select Structural Engineering, hired by building owner Andrew Wold to advise on building work, that described patches of brick façade that were separating from the building. The report noted bulging that needed to be secured to “keep the entire face of the building from falling away when the bottom area(s) come loose.”
Wold released a statement dated Tuesday, his first comments since the partial collapse, saying “our thoughts and prayers are with our tenants” and that his company, Davenport Hotel, L.L.C., is working with agencies to help them.
County records show Davenport Hotel, L.L.C. acquired the building in 2021 in a deal worth $4.2 million. The city later declared the building a nuisance due to numerous solid waste violations, and a judge ordered Wold to pay a $4,500 penalty after he did not appear in court.
NewsNation’s request for comment from Wold has not been returned.
Tuesday, the city filed a new enforcement action against Wold, saying that he had failed to maintain the property “in a safe, sanitary, and structurally sound condition” before the collapse. The city is seeking a $300 fine.
Protesters have been pushing to thoroughly search the building and debris before the city moves ahead with plans to demolish the rest of the structure. Officials had planned to begin staging the site for a tear-down as early as Tuesday morning but they delayed their efforts after a woman was found Monday evening.