NEW YORK (PIX11) — The worker who died when a parking garage collapsed in Lower Manhattan Tuesday was the long-time manager of the building, PIX11 News has learned.
Willis Moore, 59, was in his office with some of his colleagues when the floors came crashing down. The victim’s co-workers were able to run to safety, but he was unable to make it out, according to Alessy Hernandez, a manager at a nearby garage.
“I feel really sad. I had known Willis for 10 years now, the cars can be replaced but people can not,” said Adam Cohen, a resident of a nearby building that had to be evacuated. “It can be five or more weeks before I go home, but Willis’ death is really sad.”
The collapse happened around 4:15 p.m. on Ann Street, between Nassau and Williams Streets in the Financial District. At the time, there were six workers inside the building according to John Esposito, the FDNY’s chief of operations. Four of the workers were hospitalized in stable condition, and one worker declined medical attention.
On Wednesday morning, efforts to recover the body were still underway because the FDNY had concerns about the building’s stability, sources said. Moore’s body was eventually found Wednesday afternoon among the damaged cars and rubble.
Hernandez said he had left the area about 10 minutes before the deadly incident occurred.
“I was very concerned. I didn’t know it was that bad. I just thought it was the back wall that fell but later saw … the top floors had caved in and caused the pancake effect,” Hernandez said.
Inspectors said the structure, which had four open building violations, could collapse completely at any time. This prompted crews to begin demolishing the building Wednesday morning, with more than three dozen cars still in the garage. According to an FDNY source, it could take a week to deconstruct the building.
Cohen captured video of the FDNY’s robot dog at the building. He told PIX11 news his family was evacuated from their home and his car is still on the roof of the garage.
“My wife was screaming, like something went down … she said they (first responders) were banging on the door, saying to evacuate the building,” Cohen said Wednesday morning. “I got home to see chaos. There were hundreds of cops and firefighters on the streets. Things shut down for blocks and blocks and blocks.”
After the parking garage collapsed, hundreds of Pace University students were temporarily displaced because one of the dorms was adjacent to where the collapse occurred. Authorities decided the safest thing to do was completely evacuate the student housing building.
“This bag is all I have. My laptop, clothes, medication, everything I had to leave behind,” one student said.
“We heard a big boom. And we thought it hit our building. So we went to check the windows, and we immediately saw smoke. Cars were sinking – it looked out of a movie. It was horrible,” another student said.
Staten Island resident Jim Slattery had parked his car on the ground level of the garage less than 15 minutes before it collapsed.
“I heard it’s trashed inside all over the place. I haven’t thought about it. Because I heard someone was a fatality, unfortunately. So when you hear that, yeah – I’m very lucky,” Slattery said.