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The Independent

Surviving tenant of Iowa collapsed building reveals wife lost leg in rescue

By Andrea Blanco,


A survivor of the partially collapsed building in Davenport, Iowa, has revealed her wife had her leg amputated by rescuers trying to save her.

Lexus and Quanishia Berry were taking pictures of a crack between a wall and the bathroom doorway when the rear part of their building came down around 5pm on Sunday. Lexus was standing on a part of the structure that didn’t collapse, but in a matter of seconds, her wife and two cats disappeared under the rubble.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, first responders worked tirelessly to evacuate tenants, initially rescuing seven people from the wreckage. For the first 12 hours that authorities were unable to locate Quanishia, her wife stayed in the area, anxiously waiting for updates and holding onto hope that Quanishia had survived the ordeal.

On Monday morning, search crews finally located Quanishia, who was trapped under debris.

“There was a lot of debris and things surrounding her and her legs were pinned down,” Lexus told The Quad-Cities Times . “They were able to get one leg out, but [her left] leg in order to get her out, they had to amputate it.”

Lexus was briefly brought to where his wife was located to speak to her before trauma surgeons performed the challenging surgery. Quanishia was given pain medication and rushed to an area hospital once a team of doctors and firefighters were able to free her from the rubble.

“They gave me literally just a minute, if not 40 seconds,” Lexus told the Times . “They gave me a hard hat, and there were about three or four of them that walked me into the building ... I just got to say, ‘I love you, you’re OK, you got this. Don’t worry.’ “

The couple lost their home, their belongings and their two cats. A GoFundMe has been created by friends to help cover costs that incur as Quanishia recovers and they search for a new home accessible for her.

“I know how strong she is, because she was down there for over seven hours and she survived, so she can survive anything,” Lexus told the Times . “It’s just the feeling of knowing that she’s hurt, hurts me. I hate to see her in pain. It’s really hard to see her in the state that she is.”

Quanisha remains hospitalised and is currently on a ventilator. Doctors have told her wife that more surgeries might be needed during her recovery process.

“We call her ‘Peach’ because she’s sweet. She puts other people before herself. She takes care of me,” Lexus said. “If I’m sick or if I can’t take care of myself, she literally nurses me back to health. To be able to do that for her is very important.”

Lexus also criticised the response of city officials to the tragedy.

“The people that are having press conferences, the mayor — they’re not telling the full story,” she told the Times .

The announcement of demolition plans less than 24 hours after the collapse, before city officials even acknowledged they had been unable to locate several residents, has sparked outrage within the community who as protesters gathered at the site. The 11th-hour rescue of a tenant who had passed out under a couch and awoke to the sound of family yelling her name also heightened concern that the men could be alive under the rubble.

Five people are unaccounted for. Authorities said they now face a gruelling decision as engineers warned another collapse of the remaining structure is “imminent” – but at least two men, Ryan Hitchcock and Branden Davis, are feared to be trapped in the existing wreckage.

The structure was undergoing permitted repairs at the time of the collapse, officials said. Last year, nearly 20 permits were filed, mainly for plumbing or electrical issues, according to the Associated Press .

A permit’s inspection for “framing before cover” appeared to be approved when the complex came down around 5pm on Sunday but now appears as “failed” on the City of Davenport website, local news station KWQC first reported.

When confronted about the change, a city spokesperson told the outlet that it was due to a “computer glitch” but denied a Freedom of Information Act request for the physical documents. The Independent has reached out to the city for comment.

The city has been in contact with the building owner Andrew Wold, Mr Morris said on Tuesday. State agencies are coordinating what agency will take the lead in the investigation but no criminal charges have been filed so far.

Iowa court records reviewed by The Independent on Wednesday show that Mr Wold and Davenport Hotel LLC are listed as defendants in a civil enforcement action brought by the City of Davenport on 30 May. Mr Wold was given a $300 fine for failing to keep the building “safe, sanitary and structurally sound condition,” WQAD reports.

Despite a myriad of reports from past and current tenants that the building’s conditions were unsafe, a structural engineer hired by the owner deemed the structure safe, officials said.

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