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1 Dead in NJ Restaurant Renovation

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

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One construction worker has died and another remained seriously injured after the floor of a New Jersey restaurant partially collapsed during renovations.

Authorities said Guo Tai Chen, 50, of Queens, NY, was killed when the first floor of the Coda Kitchen and Bar in downtown Maplewood, NJ, collapsed into the basement shortly after 9 a.m. Friday (May 30), according to local news reports.

Deputy Fire Chief Joe Callaghan told reporters that Chen had been trapped under wooden debris, and there had been a side collapse from the walls, which were rock and dirt.

Rescuers pulled another worker out of the rubble in serious condition. The unidentified worker was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at University Hospital, reports said.  A third worker on the job was not injured.

The restaurant was closed to the public when the incident occurred; however, the eatery’s manager was there and was able to get out of the building safely, reports relate.

Reports note nearby businesses had to be evacuated.

Project Probed

An investigation into the cause of the collapse is underway, reports said.

The workers, employed by HNK Services of Edison, NJ, were building an interior staircase from the food preparation room in the basement to the kitchen on the first floor when the first floor unexpectedly gave way, local reports said, citing officials.

The company could not be reached for comment. HNK Services does not have a website.

The renovation project had been ongoing for two weeks, and officials said all project permits were in order and up to date.

Maplewood Mayor
Maplewood Township

Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca told reporters that while the building was “structurally sound,” it will remain condemned until repairs can be made and local inspectors permit it to reopen.

Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration did not immediately respond Monday morning as to whether the federal agency initiated an investigation.

Condemned Until Repaired

Maplewood Mayor Victor DeLuca told reporters that while the building was “structurally sound,” it would remain condemned until repairs can be made and local inspectors permit it to reopen.

“Our hearts go out to the families,” DeLuca said. “This is a person who went to work today expecting to come home tonight.”

The building housing the Coda Kitchen and Bar, which opened in 2010, was built around 1930, reports said.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial Construction; Fatalities; Health and safety; Renovation; Restaurants

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