City of New Orleans says work to recover remains at Hard Rock has begun


After the remains of the victims are removed, cranes will be used to pick apart the top eight floors of the building.

NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — A little over nine months after the Hard Rock hotel construction site partially collapsed in the New Orleans French Quarter a move to remove the bodies of two of the men who perished in the collapse has finally gained steam.

New Orleans Fire Chief Tim McConnell said that the work to retrieve the remains of construction workers Quinnyon Wimberly and Jose Ponce Arreola has started, with hopes that the first victim’s remains could be out by week’s end.

The bodies of the two men have remained trapped as the city and developers squabbled over the plan to bring the blighted structure down. Anthony Magrette, 49, was also killed in the collapse. 

The Hard Rock site came down on October 12, 2019, and work began in late June to demolish buildings near the site and to remove the parts of a crane that remained over Canal Street after explosions took down the two cranes, with part of one impaling into Rampart Street.

After the bodies are removed, cranes will be used to pick apart the top eight floors of the building.

The demolition is expected to cost $8.4 million. 1031 Canal Development, the Hard Rock’s owner, is paying for the demolition work. The ultimate goal is to have the site entirely clear by October, a year after the deadly collapse.

Some, like Canal Street business owner Hassam Salem, say they aren’t hopeful.

“For about a year I’ve been hearing too many different delays about when they’re going to take it down, if they’re going to implode it or not,” Salem said. “I definitely need to see it to believe it. I definitely have to see it to believe it.”

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